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Student exchange: from Puerto Rico to MCLA

02/19/2014

This semester, MCLA welcomed its first National Student Exchange (NSE) student to campus - Stephanie Rosa '16, who majors in social studies at the University of Puerto Rico-Cayey. A commuter student who lives within walking distance of that institution, she was looking for a campus that could provide her with the full college experience.

"Campus life was one of the things I was most looking forward to experiencing," Rosa said. "Since I commute to school back home, I didn't really get the sense of student community I'm getting here.

"The best part about it is being more independent in every sense of the word," she continued. "Berkshire Towers has a stimulating environment where I can hang out with my suitemates whenever, and have friends living in the same building, but it's also very chill. I love being in the suite lounge and Taconic Room: I can usually get my homework and readings done there."

To Rosa, having the "college experience" also means joining clubs - something she had never done before. "That's probably one of my favorite things about being here: it's what I was looking for."

One of the clubs Rosa joined is the Dance Company, where she's enjoying her passion for dancing - something she hasn't done since high school.

Although the Dance Company keeps her busy, she's also enjoying the "Good Vibes" club and, as part of Berkshire Towers' "A Board," she helps to plan events and is becoming acquainted with others who live in the residence hall.

Joining clubs not only has helped to expand her social circle, but to get together with people who share her interests. Although she still is new to campus, the best part of MCLA, she said, are the many clubs found here.

"I understand they are a big thing in this school, and they're not kidding. I feel like you could do almost anything here. You can even create your own club," Rosa said.

Another great part of her experience so far has been her professors. "They've been helpful and attentive, and I've been enjoying their classes," said Rosa. "I can tell I'm also going to be challenged academically, which is also a good thing."

Because English is her second language, Rosa needs a little extra time to get her homework done, but she feels she's gaining a better grasp as the days go by. "Class discussions have been interesting, and I find myself participating more in class than I used to back home, or at least trying more to do so."

What's the biggest difference between the University of Puerto Rico and MCLA?

"MCLA has a variety of different students from different backgrounds, and that's very interesting. One of my suitemates is an exchange student from China, and I've met one of her friends, also an exchange student," Rosa explained.

"I still have a ways to go, but I definitely feel MCLA will be a place where I'll break out of my shyness even more," she added. "My time here so far has been great, and while I've been keeping busy with classes and clubs, I've felt very good about myself and the things I'm capable of. Being so involved here is definitely very refreshing."