When I was a freshman in college, I was always told that the best way to make friends and meet new people is to join a club or organization that I am interested in. I was told this same piece of advice before going on exchange through NSE at Sonoma State University. I will admit that I did not follow this piece of advice during my freshman year, nor did I follow it my first semester on exchange. After feeling disconnected from my host campus and not feeling like I belonged on campus, I decided to finally listen to that advice. I joined a club called IEEC, which also counts for internship credits toward my degree.
The International Education Exchange Council, or IEEC, deals with just about everything regarding studying abroad and studying away. There are a few things that this club does to get students interested and involved. One thing that the club does it that it puts on events on-campus and trips off-campus for current exchange students here at Sonoma State. Another thing that this club does is informs and helps out students who are interested in studying away internationally or through NSE. This could involve giving students the information and resources that they need in order to pick the perfect program and pace for them when studying away. The last thing this club does is getting students involved on campus who have previously studied away. They can do this by sharing their experience with others and interacting with the current exchange students or future exchange students. Anything that is related to studying away is dealt with through the IEEC club.
Within the club, I am considered a Global Engagement Ambassador, and I am on the community engagement committee. This means that my responsibilities include planning trips for exchange students, planning events on campus for future exchange students, and getting people involved in the studying away committee here at Sonoma State. My club and committee have weekly meetings on Friday where we discuss our upcoming events, do team-bonding activities, and work on professional development. Along with the team meetings, each member of our club has to work in the Global Engagement Office for a certain number of hours per week. Our responsibilities are to answer phone calls, make appointments, and answer questions students have about studying away. The team meetings and working in the office are the only two things that are required within this club for all members. However, there are other things that my team members and I are encouraged to do as well. These things include class presentations to inform students about our programs and events we have coming up, and we also do tabling in the center of campus for the same reason. So overall, this club takes up a lot of my time throughout the week, but it is so rewarding and a lot of fun!
I was always a person who did not like to get out of my comfort zone and was quite shy with new people. Studying away through NSE, and especially being an ambassador for IEEC has helped me change that. I am not more confident because of the daily interactions I have with other students, and I am more willing to go out of my comfort zone because of all the events we put on. It has helped me create connections with other people who love to travel, gave me a community on campus that I could feel a connection toward, and made me a lot more independent. These are all qualities that I was hoping to achieve during my exchange, and I can confidently say that I have achieved all of them.
Before studying away through NSE and before joining the IEEC club and becoming a Global Engagement Ambassador I was a very shy person. I did not like to go out of my comfort zone, and it was very difficult for me to meet new people. Studying away at Sonoma State and joining this club on campus has helped me to change that. I am a lot more confident because of the daily interactions I have with other students, and I am more willing to go out of my comfort zone because of all the events we put on throughout the semester. It has helped me create connections with other students who love to travel, gave me a community on campus that I could feel involved in, and has made me a lot more independent. These are all qualities that I was hoping to achieve during my exchange, and I can confidently say that I have achieved all of those things.
I know by now that you have probably heard it a million times before, and I am going to tell you again. The best way to meet people who share common interests with you is to join a club or organization. There is a reason that almost all freshmen, exchange students, and transfer students are told to find a club that interests them. Whether it is an academic club, sports club, hobby club, or a club relating to your exchange as I joined. It is very important for you to find something for you to do on campus to get involved with other students. This is one amazing way to make the best of your experience on exchange.
Submitted by Brandi Norum