Today, we are continuing a series highlighting the experiences of members of the International Student Advisory Committee (ISAC). ISAC is a group of current students who are excited to help you learn more about the UChicago undergraduate experience. ISAC is made up of students from all four years of the College and from all over the world!
As this year has resulted in some different ways of attending college, we wanted to check in with some of our students to see how they were able to engage with the UChicago community remotely.
To continue this ISAC experience series, we spoke with Yinsu H., a second year from China; Carmelo G., a second year from Venezuela; Fion T., a second year from Hong Kong; and Iris H., a fourth year from China.
For many students, the hardest part of the final quarter of the 2019-2020 school year going remote was losing the consistent contact with peers that occurred through things like ritualistic caffeination at campus cafes or brisk walks across the Quad. However, they were still able to find ways to keep in touch.
As second year Yinsu H. from China described, “I adjusted myself by finding a bunch of international students that shared similar experiences. We organized Zoom studying events to help us concentrate on schoolwork and, at the same time, jibber-jabbered a lot about our ‘new’ college life. Trust me, talking to people does help!”
Carmelo, a second year from Venezuela, also found support amongst his peers.
“I was able to keep in touch with friends from UChicago and schedule times to hang out online and help with studying for midterms and finals,” he said. “The ability to be able to reach out to my community and peers was eventually what led me to decide to return to campus [in the fall] even if it was going to be online.”
Beyond the support students received from peers, being at the University of Chicago meant they had the support of the whole University community as well. Second year Fion T. from Hong Kong spoke about how critical it was for her to be able to find support through UChicago’s mental health resources. Despite working thousands of miles away, Fion was able to set up Zoom appointments through Student Counseling Services and have an extra layer of support.
“In late Spring Quarter, I finally worked up the courage to email my psychologist months after we’d last spoken, and she replied almost instantly to set up a Zoom appointment. It’s doubly important to take care of our mental health in these times, and I’m so thankful that these channels for student support continue to exist, even halfway across the world,” she explained.
In addition to mental health resources, students were also able to take advantage of UChicago’s career services—even remotely. Iris H., a fourth year in the College from China, started preparing for the fall job recruiting cycle in the summer and was initially worried that many of the resources she relied on would not be readily accessible given the time difference and virtual nature of many career operations. However, during this time, Career Advancement doubled down with virtual appointments to review cover letters, resumes, and more. The office also provided programs that allowed students from the College to run practice interviews with students from the Booth School of Business.
“I made appointments with them almost every week,” Iris said. “I was glad that I could have the chance to practice with those who are going to work in big consulting firms, and their feedback was super helpful. I also had appointments with other career advisors to help me with my resume and cover letters. I’m really thankful for all the help that I got from Career Advancement.”
Thank you so much to Yinsu, Carmelo, Fion, and Iris for being willing to share some of their experiences! Make sure to check back in soon for the next installment in this series!