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An international student from Vietnam, Nhi Ly ’22 (women's, gender & sexuality studies, Chinese) discusses what brought her to Dickinson, the cultural organizations that keep her connected to her home, her experiences being part of a community of international students and her future plans.
How did you learn about Dickinson?
During my research on colleges/universities in the U.S., I found out that there were two types of U.S. colleges, one of which was a liberal-arts college. As I dug deeper, I found myself interested in small communities and classrooms, which would help me enhance relationships with professors and classmates.
How do you stay connected to your culture on campus?
I have presented my culture by promoting traditional holidays through clubs/organizations and sharing ideas in class discussions. For example, I am currently a member of the Asian and Asian-American Collective and We Introduce Nations at Dickinson (WIND).
Ly (center) at the Holi festival sponsored by WIND.
What made you decide to come to Dickinson?
The first thing that drew me to Dickinson was the small community and classroom, which I believed would help better my academic and social experiences. The second reason was the opportunity for students to engage in research with their professors, which would be more challenging at bigger colleges/universities. Dickinson's focus on sustainability was the third thing that attracted me. And the last element that made me decide to come to Dickinson were the various study-abroad programs.
What are the most exciting and challenging aspects of being an international student?
I think it is interesting to explore a new environment and country with different perspectives and [a different] identity, since I was born and raised in an Asian country. Being an international student gives me the advantage of having a community of other international students and chances to share about my identity, country and culture. I’ve faced some specific challenges. First is the language barrier in both academic and social life. Sometimes, I find it a bit hard to learn things since it requires more time and effort. Also, differences in cultures (music, fashion, entertainment, etc.) result in difficulties in making friends with domestic students. Homesickness is also a challenge.
How has your experience met or defied your expectations?
I really enjoy the small community and my relationships with not only other students but professors and staff members. I have had chances to engage in different activities and workshops and to study Chinese and Spanish. Also, I was able to take interesting courses about different topics. Dickinson has helped me grow a lot and become better in time management, leadership skills and communication skills.
What advice would you give to future international students?
Be yourself. We are unique human beings and we do not have to change anything in order to fit it. Bring your own culture and uniqueness and help enrich the environment at Dickinson.
What are your plans after graduation?
I would love to have a job in the U.S. working around gender-based discrimination and feminism issues at a nonprofit organization. I hope to use the knowledge I gained at Dickinson and my Chinese and Spanish to help women, especially undocumented migrant [women], immigrant women, women of color and low-income women.
Read six additional international student Q&As in the winter 2020 Dickinson Magazine feature, "A Next-Level Global Education."
Read more Student Snapshots.
Published February 20, 2020