When Expectations are Met by Reality [A Perfect College Experience]
SRJC: My scholastic American dream
My first approach to Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) was a little bit more personal. In Ecuador, my home country, it is a tradition in my family to go abroad to California and take a gap year after graduating high school. Somehow weeks later, after everyone’s arrival, my family members always found themselves taking at least one class at SRJC.
However, I had more inspiration in my decision. I saw "High School Musical 3" at its premiere. Everyone standing on the stage, ready to be called by their names, and I knew that one day I had to do it too. Santa Rosa Junior College met the expectations of the dream I had ever since I watched my favorite movie for the first time.
Green spaces, huge brick buildings, a 4-story library, a bookstore, numerous helpful departments administered by professionals, fully equipped laboratories for every science major, student clubs — these were the movie-based elements I wanted for my college experience, and Santa Rosa Junior College is the perfect place.
How did I make friends, you ask? Hear me out. In college, everyone wants to make friends. You will likely come up to someone, and they are ready to bond. And you have for sure one same interest; you go to the same community college. Start from there!
Besides, there are many clubs, and each of them revolves around specific topics like Queer, Sustainability, Student Ambassadors, Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship, Baha’i, and more. They are open for any student that wants to join, and you can even be part of the administrative team. Overall, people from SRJC are kind, from staff to faculty to students.
College can be hard, but SRJC has your back
Many people struggle with mental health, especially when being pressured by assignment deadlines, good grades, remote learning, missing family, etc. SRJC makes sure that you have an emotional support system for your mind while you are here.
They have a department specifically designated to provide therapy to students that are having trouble keeping a healthy and peaceful mental space. This is a free service since the Health Fee payment supports the Student Psychology Services Department (SPS).
Additionally, if you prefer to do your therapy in Spanish because that is your mother tongue language and you can express yourself better, you can. The SPS has licensed Spanish-speaking therapists.
Therapy has always been a taboo where I come from, but SRJC has made me see it as a tool rather than another problem that I have to deal with. Being away from home doesn’t mean that you don’t have the privilege of keeping yourself healthy.
Educational system shock
Before I came here, I was living in Colombia, and I was the first generation in history that graduated high school virtually, then I took six months of vacation. But by January 2021, I suddenly was 12 units into college, no turning back. It was my first semester; classes were virtual and not even in my mother tongue language.
SRJC made my concerns go away in the exact amount of 5 minutes it took me to do the orientation activity because that is where they tell you that you have a lot of helpful resources on campus. So, you don’t have to worry about it either. You will definitely be helped.
They have many tutoring centers, open for students at all times, and professors have office hours available for you. However, I would be responsible for my deadlines and paying attention to the actual class.
Also, do not forget that counseling could be a crucial element for you to have a personalized and suitable educational path.
SRJC has counselors specifically for F-1 visa students, they will help you figure out your classes and also keep you up to date with all the requirements for your immigration status, like making sure you take 12 units every spring and fall semester.
Baby steps to independence
I come from a third-world country, it is impossible to become independent in your teenage years or even in your early adulthood because of many social and financial matters in the government administration.
Here, international students are eligible to work on campus as soon as they arrive. And because of COVID-19, they are very understaffed. So, if you want to start your professional life early and make some extra money, SRJC would be happy to help you to do so.
I got to California 2 months ago for the fall semester. I applied for a job, and now I am the International Student Program Student Assistant. I am very happy and grateful that SRJC gives you the possibility to work and develop skills for your future profession. But don't forget you guys, your priority must always be to study!
Make the most out of your experience at SRJC
As someone who comes from a country that does not have adequate resources to educate its society, I can say that all that SRJC offers to an international student is a dream to me.
When you come to the United States, especially to this community college, you will realize that the only limit is yourself and how far you can get with your abilities, your creativity, and your motivation to be the best.
This community college will definitely be a great start for you since you will have the opportunity to connect with a lot of people. Also, San Francisco city is close by and is a great thing because you are 1 hour away from where big things are happening and could happen to you, too.
Micaela Baquero is a 19-year-old currently pursuing her engineering degree at Santa Rosa Junior College in California.