Megan Doldron, Trinidad & Tobago
When I was in high school I wanted to go to a summer program. My mother wanted me to go to one, too. She’s the one who discovered Hollins. She “forgot” to tell me it was a women’s college. But during the Hollinsummer program I fell in love with the classes and campus, and I knew I wanted to enroll there.
Hollins has been above and beyond my expectations. I live in Carvin House. I’m the president this year. We really have a family in that house, and we learn so much at the socials. Half the residents are Americans and half are international students from such countries as Nepal, Nigeria, and Malaysia.
I’m a mentor for the Early Transition Program [an orientation program for students of diverse backgrounds], the president of the Black Student Alliance, a member of the Hollins Repertory Dance Company, and I volunteer at a number of local organizations. I have been with the International Student Orientation Program (ISOP) since it started. It helps international students get acquainted and to know and understand differences in cultures. It’s a great preparation for life at Hollins and helps international students develop support systems. It’s a beautiful thing.
My advice if you’re planning to come to Hollins is to find things that interest you and be open to new things. Find people on Facebook to talk to, especially the program mentors. There are no stupid questions, so ask them. You will get help.
Patrice Lawrence, Jamaica
I had a college advisor who told me about Hollins. I checked it out online and applied. I’d been to an all-girls’ school for seven years before I came here, so I knew it would be good.
I’m a political science major and I’m one course away from my philosophy minor. I love politics. I love feeling as if I can make a difference, and I think politics is one of the ways you can do that. I took American Government fall semester with Professor Ra. He is amazing. Taking his class, in the middle of the election period, was so cool. We got to look at all the different aspects of American government through the campaigning and the debates, the candidates, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the indifferent, which was excellent.
I came to Hollins as a premed student. I love the flexibility you have at a place like Hollins. You can come in as a premed student and leave wanting to do law. The International Student Orientation Program [ISOP] was really good. I went back to be a mentor for this year. My first semester, I was in the Black Students Alliance and STAND—Students Taking Action Against Genocide—a Darfur thing. It’s nationwide, so Hollins is a branch of it. I’m a senator for GIA [Global Interest Association]. I also love the theatre. I’ve been on the crew, I’ve acted, and I’ve been box and host manager. The only thing I haven’t done yet is lighting.
Before I came to Hollins, I was concerned about living with roommates. My first roommate was cool. After awhile I decided I wanted to be by myself, so I tried that out for a while. My second semester here I got a single room. And then my sophomore year I moved in with someone who I knew very well. We share a lot of interests. We pull all nighters together and that is awesome.
Hollins has exceeded my expectations. I figured there would be a small community feel, but I don’t think I expected the care that I’ve gotten from the professors here. It has really been very helpful, and it’s been across the board.
My advice for other international students: Bring things that remind you of home, if you can. If you know you’re going to miss the food, bring some nonperishable food with you. These treats perk you up if you’re homesick. Read your brochures. When you get your packet from Jeri Suarez [associate dean for cultural and community engagement], read that inside out. Know it and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most of what you need to know is there, but if something arises, it is really important that you don’t just sit by and say, "Oh, I’ll figure it out."
I can't wait for you to join the Hollins family!
Puja Sharma, Nepal
I was not specifically looking for a women’s college but I preferred a women’s college because I was coming to the United States for the first time and from a third-world country. I thought maybe there would be many cultural differences. At Hollins, it has been comfortable. It’s not that difficult.
I want to go to grad school and hopefully get a Ph.D. I haven’t declared my major yet but I’m planning to do a B.S. in biology and double minor in physics and math. I really loved physics but I was not sure about the math part of it. After coming here and taking a class with Dr. Hammer, I loved it. I’ll take any class with Dr. Hammer. She’s a fabulous teacher.
The classes are really effective at Hollins because of the small number of students. The faculty members are really approachable. I’m always comfortable one-on-one with professors.
I live in Carvin International House. It’s really small and cozy. It’s 50% international, 50% Americans.
I love my host family. I stayed with them over winter break last year and this year, too. They live five minutes away from campus.
I’m the secretary of the Global International Association, or GIA. Last year it was inactive, so this year we reformed it. We wrote a new constitution and everything. We basically tried to narrow the gap between international students and North American students. And then we organized different programs: a kite-flying event and an international dinner.
If you’re coming to the United States, I would say be prepared for everything. Things may not work out the way you want them to, but you just have to be brave and independent. If you think you can do it, then there are people who will support you.
[Note: Puja Sharma graduated from Hollins in 2011 and is currently a Ph.D. student at the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest School for Biomedical Engineering and Sciences. She had her her first research paper published in the August 2013 journal Integrative Biology.]
Catherline Zhou, China
When I was in my first year of high school my dad bought the Princeton Review for me. I looked at the most interesting universities for me, and I checked Hollins because I love women’s colleges. The admissions office sent me a DVD about the Hollins environment. I really, really like it here. It is so beautiful. In China when we meet face-to-face in the street, we never say “hi” or “how are you” or smile to each other, but here we smile to each other and say “how are you,” even if we do not know each other.
When I got the letter telling me I was accepted, I was so excited. I’m the first one in my family to study abroad.
I am double majoring in communication studies and business. My communication studies professor is so nice. We would meet after class, and that really helped me along. I would go to her office twice a week after class after I read a chapter. After an assignment I would take it to her office to ask if she would help me check it. She never said no to me—she always opened her door to me.
I have the most lovely host family here. They have four children and three cats. I spend every weekend with them. They are just like my family, my dad and mom. They treat me like their daughter.
For international students interested in going to college in the United States, I recommend that you make a plan three years ahead. You really have to know what you want in a college, what you want to study, what kind of environment you want in a college, like a small college with all girls or a huge university with thousands of girls and boys. You need to speak a lot and study a lot, and have to make an effort to enjoy the environment. Maybe you will feel lonely or you won’t feel comfortable with the food or culture. Then you need to talk to someone in the Office of Cultural and Community Engagement. Your studies, your relationships in class, your professors, and your host family are all important for international students.