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  • Student Blogger: First Year Experiences

    We'd like to introduce you to our student blogger, Bentic Sebastian. Bentic is a sophomore at the Univeristy of Illinois and he'll be sharing his thoughts, impressions and experiences about his time here.

    Hey everyone! My name is Bentic, and I am currently a sophomore at the University of Illinois, studying Aerospace Engineering. I am an international student from Dubai.

    In my freshman year, I remember being amazed by the size of the U of I campus! As a person from a high school that consisted of just 3 buildings, it was utterly surprising to me that campuses this large existed! The lecture halls were huge and some could seat up to 600 people!

    In the United States, I feel that there is a clear distinction between being friendly and being a friend. In general, people would exchange smiles with me and ask me how I’m doing, although we did not know each other at all. It is a general act of politeness that Americans follow. Americans feel that good friendships are developed gradually, by finding out about common interests.

    In the beginning of my freshman year, I felt I had nothing in common with the students around me. In order to get more involved, I decided to join some student organizations on campus. I learnt about these organizations on Quad Day, a day where students get to sign up to receive information about any organizations they are interested in. Through the student organizations, I got to meet new people who had common interests to mine. In this way I was able to strike up very interesting conversations, and gradually get some very good friends here. I also met a lot of upperclassmen. I personally believed that upperclassmen would be ready to bully freshmen like me. However, they were open to my suggestions, and really treated me as an equal, which is a great self-esteem booster.

    During my freshman year, I lived in Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Hall, which is one of the seven dormitories on campus.  I lived in a Living Learning Community called Global Crossroads. I was lucky enough to meet people from all over the world, from Venezuela to Australia. Since we were part of an LLC, we were all interested in different cultures, and in the process of getting to know about cultures, I was able to make some very good friendships here too.

    I found that amidst all these new experiences, I felt homesick sometimes. It was my first time living in a dormitory, and I had to learn to live independently. I used Skype frequently to talk to my family. To get my mind off my emotions, I also started exploring the campus, and taking photographs to show my friends and family back in Dubai. On occasion, I used to hang out with my friends, and realized that most of us shared the same feelings about homesickness too!

    I loved my freshman year, because I got to meet all kinds of interesting people. I also got to be a part of some organizations, where I got to try new stuff and learn. I hope you will enjoy your year at the University of Illinois too!