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Three Rutgers first-years give their takes on Rutgers so far

Two first-years said they were unsure about attending Rutgers at first but have been enjoying their time on campus and getting to meet people from diverse backgrounds. – Photo by Samantha Cheng

As students complete their first month at Rutgers, several first-year students reflected on their experiences on campus so far and whether the University has met their expectations.

Helin Patel, a Rutgers Business School first-year, said she came to Rutgers with a negative view toward campus after hearing about the challenges of being on campus, such as using the Rutgers bus system, from upperclassmen. But she said her time on campus was more positive than she imagined it would be.

Natalia Galarza, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year, also said she was unsure about attending Rutgers when she first applied. She said she met two recent graduates on campus the day after she enrolled who affirmed her choice in schools.

“I'm no longer unsure about Rutgers,” Galarza said. “I enjoy being on campus and spending time with other students. It has turned into my second home.”

Galarza said Rutgers has met her expectations in terms of the range of opportunities available on campus, from meeting people with diverse backgrounds to engaging in study abroad and research programs.

In addition to the many opportunities at the University, Patel said the overall environment helped motivate her to get involved.

She said that formal and informal activities, such as attending clubs or simply waiting for a bus, have allowed her to connect with new people.

“At Rutgers, there can never be a scarcity of opportunities,” Patel said. “There is something for everyone at Rutgers.”

Galarza and Patel said these opportunities have shaped their academic and professional pursuits.

Galarza said she is currently taking a First-Year Interest Group Seminar about political science. She said her teacher’s passion in the subject encouraged her to take on political science as a minor and realize some of her academic goals.

Patel said she attended a Rutgers Real Estate Club meeting and was able to network with a member of the club’s executive board who owns a real estate license.

“When I asked for her advice, she said we can meet (for) coffee, and after that meeting, she even recommended my name to her current manager and set up a meeting with her,” Patel said. “I got to meet the manager, too. I feel that this event sums up my experience at Rutgers.”

Patel and Galarza said they were also pleased by the campus’s social life and interactions with their peers. Patel said that there is always something going on at the Rutgers Business School or at Rutgers in general, contributing to a positive experience on campus. Galarza said she enjoys being able to attend social events and relax with other students during the week.

Ianna Mutumba, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year, said her favorite parts of campus are the people and diversity, which are different from her predominantly white high school. While on campus, she said she was able to meet many students with similar interests.

But Mutumba also spoke about the difficulties faced by international students with J-1 and F-1 visas in acquiring financial aid, which is something she hopes the University will address.

Patel and Galarza said their difficulties on campus stem from their own schedules and the bus system’s schedule.

Patel said she and her friends sometimes find it difficult to travel between classes when they have only 45 minutes to take a bus to their next class.

Galarza said she would like to see more buses traveling to the College Avenue campus, as it is a hub for students to meet up and partake in social events. She also said the campus is much bigger than she anticipated, which makes it difficult to navigate.

For Patel, the University is both big and small, she said.

“Many people would say that students lose themselves at Rutgers, but from my experience, I found my true self,” Patel said.

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