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Arriving at Carleton as an International Student

After her first semester came to an end, Sherry recalls her experience arriving at school and her very first impression of Carleton.

After her first semester came to an end, Sherry recalls her experience arriving at school and her very first impression of Carleton.


As the fall term came to an end, memories of the past 100 days flashed through my mind. In short, the transition to college has been smooth for me. This can be attributed to many professors, staff, and classmates. But going back to the very beginning, my first impression of Carleton definitely helped a lot. Therefore, I would like to share my experience of arriving at Carleton as an international student.

luggage
All my possessions compressed in 3 suitcases

Taking The Flight

As we all know, the fickle COVID virus created great barriers to international travel. But at least this year, we were able to come to campus and resume face-to-face classes. Thanks to the Internet, I got in touch with many students before arriving on campus and decided to travel with another student from the same area. Our flight went all the way from Shanghai to Seoul, Seattle, and finally Minneapolis, which took us almost an entire day.

Honestly, saying goodbye to my parents was not as hard for me as it was for many of my friends, because Carleton’s school year starts around 20 days later than most schools. The special trimester system granted me a 102-day-long summer vacation. For me, the most painful part might have been wearing the N95 mask for a full day in transit. Even so, I was hyped along the way. After all, how many times can you see such fascinating views in your life?

Flight view
The best thing about transatlantic flights

Arriving On Campus

Initially, the arrival date for International Student Orientation was September 6, with no early arrival allowed. However, to best accommodate international students, the school approved arrival as early as September 2. Furthermore, since the Northfield line was not running to campus on the day I arrived, the Office of International Student Life specially arranged a shuttle for us. A respected history professor, Bill North, contacted us several days before our departure and waited for us at the luggage claim. He helped us carry all the luggage onto the car and gave us a big package prepared for all the international students. All of these made us feel like VIP guests. The package included our room key, the OneCard (our student IDs), a mask, a water bottle, a blanket, a towel, an International Student Orientation guide, and some stickers. Later, I would realize how generous Carleton is with its students: Pop Up Thrift Store, Winter Wardrobe for cold weather clothes, the Carleton Cupboard for food during academic breaks… It always makes you feel safe.

package
The package I recieved upon arrival!

The day we arrived was a gloomy day, but I was so excited to see the endless fields along the way. No matter how it is, this is the place I’ll be living in for the next four years. The drive from the airport to campus took around 45 minutes. Bill also showed us around the town of Northfield and briefly introduced some places to us: the downtown area, Wells Fargo, Domino’s pizza…… Finally, he dropped me off at my freshman year dorm: Musser Hall.

view
On the way to school

The Surprise Dinner

Since the dining hall had closed by the time we arrived on campus, Bill ordered two large pizzas from Domino’s and delivered them to our dorm. As a huge food lover, I know that oftentimes, what we remember from food is not its taste, but the emotional memories that live deep within our brain. Of course, the memory associated with this pizza was marvelous. But when I say it was the best pizza in my life, I really mean it—it was so good.

pizza
The Domino’s

Shopping At Target

Though we brought a lot of things from home, we still needed life essentials to survive (AKA shopping in the supermarket). When we expressed this wish to Bill, he readily agreed and drove us to Target the next day. The trip takes only 10 minutes by car but 1 hour if walking. (This is something about the U.S. that amazed me! You really can’t live without a car.)

As previously shown, I guess there’s no need to explain how caring Carleton professors are. Despite being kind, Bill is also one of the most devoted professors I’ve ever seen. I often see him at the 4th floor of the Libe meeting with his students. I heard from an upperclassman that before the pandemic, he even had office hours late at night up until 2 am. Though I haven’t yet had a chance to take his class, I’m sure that you can learn A LOT in his classes in the History department.

shopping
Big shopping at Target!

Though coming to campus is more challenging for international students, especially during this hectic time, there’s no better experience I could have asked for. With this memorable introduction to Carleton, I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year entails.


Sherry is a first-year student from Hangzhou, China, and holds a real passion for travel and food. She is thinking about majoring in Mathematics, but would also like to explore more in Economics, Computer Science, English, and French. Things she likes to do in her free time include hanging out with friends, taking photos, writing random stuff, and finding the funny in everyday life. She also got started with alpine skiing and is always ready for the trip to Welch Village every Friday! Meet the other bloggers!