One of my mentors once told me "Now is your time... Make the best of it", and ever since she offered me this advice, I've used it as motivation to succeed and make the best of everything I do and situation I encounter. In this, I put a special emphasis on understanding that the student experience is something that is different for everyone in our student body and we all have a different meaning of the phrase above, which can ultimately affect how we live our lives.
The student experience is vital and shapes a college or university. Since I transferred schools, I have finally been feeling at home. That being said, I crossed paths with so many students and I know that my student experience is just one in the diverse mix of many student lives here, which are defined by our experiences. Our experiences are molded by our friendships, living situations, clubs we are involved in, classes we are taking, times we study, and the list could go on and on… but essentially this all feeds in to the decisions we make in order to make the best of our time here at school which shape our college experiences.
In this way, a business major may have a totally unique experience apart from their fellow business major whom takes the same classes, but because of the extracurricular activities they do, where they are from, who they are friends with, and so on and so forth. Being at Fairfield, it can be easy to become focused on the college bubble, so much so that one may not realize how diverse our students as individuals really are. In this way, many are enrolled at Fairfield University but, thousands of different people make up this one student body.
I decided to take the plunge and hear for myself how diverse our student body really is in terms of the experiences that shape our time here. I went for it and interviewed three students who I think represent different aspects of our student body: A Junior transfer student, Junior and Editor- In- Chief of The Odyssey at Fairfield University, and an international student and Forward for the Fairfield University Men's Soccer Team.
Miranda Neiman: Westchester, NY
Year: Class of 2020
Major: Marketing and Studio Art
Miranda transferred to Fairfield in the Spring Semester of 2018 and because I am also a transfer, I surely know what it is like to go through the transition. Neiman mentioned that she is often comparing Fairfield to her first college because they are different in individual ways. This impacts her student experience. Miranda commented on how much more independent she feels now that she transferred, as a decision to transfer schools is something that you decide yourself and can be very conflicting. I agree, as I am sure most transfers can, that it is an accomplishment to act on your feelings in such a big way… so much so to move schools… and a lot of other student experiences are not effected by being unhappy at one school and deciding to see the possibilities at a new university. Miranda explained that her student experience has been a good one so far, saying that she "has had a really good experience so far with professors"
C: What was it like for you to transfer into Fairfield at the end of Sophomore year?
M: "It was hard, coming from an introvert's perspective, but it was helpful to have other transfers… I had high expectations coming to Fairfield"
C: What advice would you give to an incoming transfer student?
M: "Join clubs, even if you're not active and have no experience"
…Miranda says that one of the easiest ways to make friends is by bonding over a sport, and you get exercise in in the meantime. She also made a good point, that staying busy with sports keeps you from focusing on being homesick… something that all transfers experience. Speaking from experience, I totally agree with Miranda… I was on The Fairfield University Club Swimming and Club Running teams when I first transferred and I instantly made friends even after just going to a few practices. Putting yourself out there and being vulnerable is important in making friends, especially in college.
C: I know what it's like to leave your friends at your old school and go through such a big transition, so this next question really hits home for me… What was the hardest thing to transition to here at Fairfield?
M: "I went through a lot of transition when I first came to Fairfield… the move itself from state to state was huge for me. I would have to say the hardest thing to transition to here at Fairfield was getting over my other school. The social aspect was also really hard to get used to here"
C: What are some things that you love about Fairfield that influence your student experience?
M: "Well I think that everything influences my student experience. But, here are some things that effect my time as a student more than anything else: the educational challenge, the individualized help and relationship between student and teacher, and also the sense of community at Fairfield"
C: What is your favorite part of campus?
M: "My favorite part about campus is the turn of the season from summer warm weather, to fall crisp weather. When the leaves fall, aesthetically the change in seasons is really pretty"
…High key, the season change is beautiful… good point, Miranda!
C: What are you most happy about with your student experience?
M: "I like the sense of community here"
…Miranda also commented on how strong the alumni association is here at Fairfield, as how she feels that the aspect of networking is not only so strong here, but also has helped her to branch out and make connections… especially in the Dolan School of Business.
Kirsten Ocwieja: Chicago, Illinois
Year: Class of 2020
Editor-in-Chief of The Odyssey Online at Fairfield University
As of October 1, 2018, 4,461 students are enrolled at Fairfield University. Out of this entire campus, we each find different people who inspire, impact and influence our student experience. As a writer for The Odyssey Online, I always look forward to writing each week and Kirsten, our fabulous EIC, is one of those people who have impacted me in a really helpful and motivational way, with an emphasis on The Odyssey. Kirsten's articles are so powerful and impactful. Her student experience as a college student is too. Her interview says it all.
C: What does writing for the Odyssey mean to you?
K: Writing for the Odyssey is "really rewarding and inspiring when I am reading everyone's articles in our team… it is truly incredible to be the Editor-In-Chief because it makes me feel like I am capable of being a true leader and making an impact"
C: Do you find writing to be an outlet for your thoughts?
K: "100%, my goal is to inspire others via my writing, and as a Business Major, it is nice to have the ability to write and communicate via my writing in an efficient way"
C: If you could sum up your student experience in one word, what would it be?
K: "Wild… there are highs and lows, but the highs make everything worth it"
C: What is it like being so far from home?
K: "I appreciate home so much more now… sometimes I wish I could drive home on a Sunday". …Kirsten talks about how it is hard to go to school so far from home, but it has made her more independent in a really good way. To go off of that point, I think this is key in studying away from home. When dorming on campus, you learn to make decisions for yourself, get work done on your own time, and find your interestson your own.
C: How did you decide you wanted to major in accounting?
K: "I've always had an interest in Accounting due to my Father being an Accountant"
…Kirsten mentions that majoring in accounting is really hard and at times it can be easy to want to quit. I think something should be said for the motivation it takes to keep focused and driven to fulfill a major that might not always seem to be what you wanted it to be or too hard to see the end goal. I feel as though we all reach a point at in time when we question our major, but Kirsten makes a good point, Ocwieja said that it has helped her to have her "family supporting her and motivating her to keep with it"
C: What comforts you the most while here at school, and being so far from home?
…Very honestly and with confidence, Kirsten told me that from her first year and until now, she has gone to counseling and wanted me to share that. Ocwieja says that going to counseling has helped her on so many levels and she recommends to everyone that going to counseling is very beneficial. Talking through the bad days and the good days with someone who is an outside perspective is very impactful. From my own personal experience, I have been to the counseling center here at Fairfield University, and to get advice from someone who is an outsider from your life can certainly give the guidance that one may be seeking and needs.
C: For those who are recognizing that clique-groupiness is really common here… From Freshman year to now, how has your experience socially progressed?
K: "A few things… I have matured a lot, especially since freshman year and over the last summer when I went abroad. Also, living in the townhouses has given me the opportunity to meet more people. The 'cliquey -ness' sort of feeling becomes less exclusive by Junior year, as you become closer with people through the years and learn to know more people than those just in your friends group whether it is through classes, clubs, mutual friends, or just in passing."
C: Do you consider yourself a stag?
K: "Yes… I am on the Peer Conduct and Student Board, getting involved in organizations on campus makes you feel part of the true Stag community. Working closely with the Dean of Students gives me a true place on campus and as the Editor -In -Chief of the Odyssey I enjoy meeting people who love to write just as much as I do. In addition, being apart of Beta Alpha Psi has allowed me to connect with individuals who are also strongly interested in Accounting. So I would say having a voice on campus and connecting with those around me makes me feel like a true Stag!"
…Just like Miranda said in her responses, joining any community or group on campus will help a student to feel more comfortable and involved on campus, as part of the stag community. I recommend joining clubs, teams, study groups, et cetera if you seem to be having trouble feeling at home in your new home. Friendships and involvement does not come over night, it takes time and it will happen over time.
Don-Junior Bobe: Quebec, Canada
Year: Class Of 2021
Major: Business Undecided International Student
Forward for the Fairfield University Men's Soccer Team
As someone who loves to travel and does so often, I have always vacationed abroad but never thought about really relocating my life to study in a new country. By getting to know those who walk around Fairfield's campus, it can be clear that many in our student body are international students. The student experience of an international student is shaped in a different way than one who travels across state lines to attend college. This is because at the end of the day, being in a different country means that one is subject to a different culture, let alone a learning to live without your family's guidance in such a major way and becoming confidently independent in the process. Don-Junior Bobe has been playing soccer since he was 6 years old and speaks four languages. He is from Quebec, Canada and represents not only an international student, but also an athlete here at Fairfield. Athletes at any school represent their university on and off the field, as sports are what bring student and alumni pride together. In interviewing Don-Junior, I was able to understand another perspective on student life on out campus as both an international student and athlete.
C: Did you know that coming to the United States for college was in your future?
DJ: "I honestly only knew about 6 months before school started that I would be coming to America for college"
…As a student picking a college nationally and knowing where I would go for school in the fall within a 6 to 7 month time range seemed a bit rushed to move, decide on a major and register for classes. However, for a foreign student, they have the same amount of time that a national student might, and still have to go through everything an American student does on top of more. It is admirable and respectable to confidently go through so much in order to move and study at a university out of your home country. The student experience is thus altered by such change and how one goes through change my effect the experience more over.
C: Is it hard to go to school so far from home? Is there something that makes you feel at home here on campus?
DJ: "Soccer makes me feel at home, as it is something that I have always done and is such as integral part of my life"
… Through such change for any student, it is understandable that we all revert back to what we found comfortable before college. For athletes, that might be their sport, for other students, it might be a hobby. For me, it is friends and friends can shape our student experiences in very impactful ways. These things that make us feel comfortable and like home in a new place mold how we shape our time in college.
C: What is it like to be on a team here at Fairfield?
DJ: "Being on a team here has a great bonding factor"
C: For all of us non-athletes on campus, what is it like to be a student athlete?
DJ: "You have to be dedicated and know how to manage your time"
…On that note, Don-Junior was telling me about the time commitments that he has as a soccer player. Honestly, I, as an athletic person who makes her way to the gym every day, the workout is not comparable to that of one being on a D1 sports team… obviously. During the soccer season, the Fairfield University Soccer Team practices 5 times a week, two of which are lift days, and has two games per week. Each practice is 2 hours long. All of this on top of being a business student is clearly a big-time commitment, but how Don-Junior makes it work compiles his student experience and he touched upon this when he told me that he was Freshman of the Year last year, rewarding him for his strong academic and athletic ability. This is impressive for someone who left his home country to study here at Fairfield.
C: If you could sum up your Student Experience in a few words, what would they be?
DJ: "I have met a lot of people"
…Don-Junior says that the strong want for students to do well by professors is something that sums up his student experience and improves his academic career here at Fairfield.
After becoming more involved in the student body and understanding that each and every person's student experience is different, I have a better understanding of the diverse lives that we all live as students on one campus.