Being an International First-Year Student at Barnard

Being an International First-Year Student at Barnard

I was scared more than excited when I first arrived at Barnard by myself after the 13-hour flight from Beijing, China. How would I survive in this new environment?

My biggest concern for college was that I didn’t feel confident enough for the college-level academic writing. Growing up, I learned English in my school, but I didn’t have much experience writing research papers and essays in English. Often, my struggle was not certain vocabularies or grammar, but translation of my thoughts in Chinese to clear expression in English. 

Fortunately, for both of my writing-intensive classes, Barnard provided more than enough help for me to succeed in writing assignments. For my Education Foundations class, all students were assigned to a Writing Fellow from the Barnard Writing Center—they are peer-to-peer fellows who assist essay writing through one-on-one meetings.

After scheduling a meeting with my Writing Fellow, Annabella, we met at the Diana Center and talked about my essay draft for half an hour. During the talk, Annabella explained her comments on my draft and pointed out possible problems, but mostly she raised guiding questions to help me sort out my thoughts and generate new ideas for my essay. At the end of the session, I brought home scratch paper with our conversation jotted down by Annabella. With that reference to our helpful discussion, I finished my final draft successfully.

 I also worried about my social life at Barnard when I first got here. Before arriving at Barnard, I hadn’t spoken English for an entire summer. What if my rusty English wasn’t good enough to make friends? The International Pre-Orientation Program reassured me because I had the opportunity to meet other international students who shared my feelings, and I met my best friend here. It also introduced me to the wonderful International and Intercultural Student Programs (IISP) that supports our life at Barnard as international students. IISP assigned us to the Global Ambassadors who continually prepare supporting activities, helped us apply for Social Security Number (so I can work on-campus and write this post!), and planned Thanksgiving dinner for those of us who could not fly all the way back to home.

 Jumping into a new country to study can be overwhelming - especially in the city of New York - but I do not regret my choice to be here at Barnard. The past two months have passed by without a blink, and I’ve still got so much to explore at Barnard and in the city. If you are looking for a place where you as an international student are supported, don’t hesitate to apply to Barnard!

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