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SAQ: What Do You Like About Vanderbilt? (Part I: The Environment)

Posted by on Wednesday, December 26, 2018 in Admissions, Admissions, Culture, Diversity, Early Decision, Family, Year in Review.

In this recent installment of Sophie Answers Questions, I’ll answer a question from email I received about a week ago! “What do you like about Vanderbilt?” I’m going to split it into a few sections. This is…

The Environment

I’ve found a lot of things to like here. A LOT. It’s been so fun!

1. Oh my goodness, the racial/ethnic diversity. Coming from Dallas and an unofficial sort of math-science East/South Asian mix of kids who did orchestra, science fair, math competitions, Chinese School, SAT prep, and spelling bees together, (yes this exists, yes it was really something), I knew a lot of kids with immigrant parents (besides my mom and my grandparents, lol). But at Vanderbilt, I met a lot of international students, mostly because I made friends with the two international Malaysian students in my Visions group, one of my closest friends became an international student from Nigeria, and others I met through University Catholic. They introduced me to more international students. Becoming friends with students with homes in other countries taught me a little about trying to be cognizant of talking about homesickness, being open to questions about things that I took for granted, and also not viewing them as some “other” (this was actually something I found that I was viewed as more than viewing other people as). I also learned that a lot of international students may come from a homogeneous country racially or in a religious sense. The United States can definitely be a unique experience in terms of the various different kinds of people and the sense of not belonging anymore, of being different. I had a small, small, small taste of this during the summer when I traveled to ten countries throughout Europe, Asia, and in Australia. It’s annoying to have someone always comment on your accent, not hear anyone that sounds like you, or to have people stare at you for a few seconds longer because you look different in some way. Meeting more international students and students of other ethnic/racial backgrounds has been definitely an opportunity 1) to just have one more awesome friend 2) to learn!

2. Also, there are many different mixed kids at Vanderbilt (*cough* me *cough* #subtlehalfietraits). It’s a safe bet to not assume that someone might be white, black, Asian, or Latino just because they “look like they might be.” A lot of people are half of something or a quarter of something else, and it can be so interesting to hear people’s stories of their parents or grandparents or the contrasting side of their families.

3. What I’m really saying here is that people have really interesting stories. And it’s worth it to hear them.

4. There’s kind of a culture of dressing up for class, which honestly, can be really nice because it’s nice to look nice. As someone told me sophomore year, my sense of dress has increased 100% since freshman year (yikes) so anyway… it’s nice to use that dress sense, I guess.

5. The professors being super open to you asking questions (most of the time). I’ve had a lot of lovely professors who are so, so nice and who have given me so much of their time and expertise. Getting to know professors as people and talking with them about what they’re doing outside of the class has been a wonderful experience.

6. It’s also important to keep in mind that some professors are just teaching because they have to, so it’s worth it to check before taking a class. As you’ll hear again and again, professors do not have to have any kind of formal teaching training before they become professors (most have experience of being TAs), so all have various skills from this type of sink-or-swim mentality.

7. It’s so easy to make friends freshman year, when you’re on Commons. The Commons environment is like no other, and it’s definitely worth it to take advantage of it!

8. There are SO MANY AMAZING INSPIRING people at Vanderbilt. People who do stuff across disciplines, people who work so, so hard in whatever field they’re interested in. Check out this article on one of my current suitemates (& my freshman roommate, look at those connections) who are BME majors and ballerinas, as well as another about the Top 10 Outstanding Seniors this year!

That’s all for now, folks! I’ll be posting more on the Academics, Spiritual Life (All faiths/none), and more later! Stay tuned. If you have questions or things you’d like me to address, email!

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