Queremos presentaros a Lucía J., alumna de Access USA de tercer año en Allegheny College (Pennsylvania), estudiando un doble grado en International Studies & Business, además de una especialización en lengua árabe. Hemos charlado con ella acerca de su experiencia hasta ahora en Allegheny, cómo fue su proceso de admisión, las diferencias que encuentra sobre la experiencia educativa entre España y EEUU y sus recomendaciones personales para todo alumno que quiera prepararse para dar el salto a una gran universidad.
Name: Lucía J.
Hometown: Pontevedra, Spain
Major: International Studies & Business + Minor in Arabic (class of ‘24)
University: Allegheny College
Hello everyone! My name is Lucía J. I study at Allegheny, as a Junior, class of ‘24. I’m a double major in International Studies and Business; and I have a minor in Arabic.
How is this year going? Tell us about your experience at Allegheny. What kind of activities/projects are you currently involved in?
This year is going great! I just finished my first semester and I am now starting my second semester of my junior year. I feel like now I get to specially get more specialized classes and not so much introduction classes, which is great. I’ve taken, for example, International Business. I’m taking Art, Literature… things that I’m really interested in.
And in terms of things that I’m involved in, and I’ve been involved in the International Club on campus, since I first came. I was the treasurer for a while, and this year, I have the honor to be the President! So super exciting. We do a lot of events on campus and just showcase people’s cultures and heritage, in a positive, fun way.
I was also part of the Global Citizen Scholars: it was like a cohort of people of my class year, we had a theme of women empowerment. So we worked with partners locally in Meadville, but also internationally we worked with organizations in India, Ghana, and Costa Rica, super fun!
Could you walk us through your admissions process? Did you know from the beginning what you wanted to study? What motivated you to choose Allegheny?
I think I was pretty sure on ‘2º de Bachillerato’ (Grade 12) about what I wanted to study, definitely social sciences. I was leaning towards international studies or international relations, just because it’s super interdisciplinary.
But I was also not closed off, so David helped me navigate how to find the right major, and like the right college, and all of that sort of test and just talking to him and figuring out what I would actually want my college experience to look like. I guess we came to the conclusion that I wanted to go to a liberal arts college, and that had international studies. Allegheny was one of the options, so I’m super glad I ended up here.
How were those first days and weeks when you arrived in the U.S.?
Yes, definitely it was a cultural shock. When I talk about it with my friends, I always say that maybe going somewhere else would be a bigger cultural shock just because of the media, like the American media interactions we get daily, and through movies or YouTube… All my favorite YouTubers are from America. So in that sense, I was kind of familiarized with it, but at the same time: New place, new culture, new language, like there’s millions of things that you don’t expect. But I think my experience was great and I feel like Allegheny helped a lot.
What differences do you find between a classroom in Spain and the United States?
Well, I guess my experience, it’s maybe not everyone’s experience, because I go to a small liberal arts college. So that’s not I guess, comparable to a public university in Spain that are super big, with more students, bigger classes. And I think the biggest difference is the class size. Most of my classes have like 15 people, intro classes, maybe a little bit more, but the higher level classes are like 8 people. That is an amazing opportunity to connect with a professor one on one and work with everyone.
A lot of the activities we do are discussion based, which is something that I haven’t really seen in Spain, even in high school, it’s more like lecture classes. From my experience, you get out and then we have more continuous work, and not just one exam at the end of the year. So a lot of my classes would have team projects, or just individual projects or quizzes, sometimes readings, and we will base the discussion on the reading we did.
As a Junior at Allegheny, when you look back, what is most noteworthy about your time there?
This year it’s being different. I have one class only Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then three classes, Tuesdays and Thursdays. But most people would have four classes. And last year, I had two and two. So I wake up, probably grab a coffee, go to class, change classes. And then grab lunch, people grab lunch super early, like 12 is more every, when everyone is at the cafeteria. And then after class, I would just probably go to the library, or I would have meetings. It depends on the day, but either for my work, or for my clubs or things that I’m involved in.
What advice would you give to new students in order to prepare for and enjoy their academic experience the most?
I would recommend them to be super involved. Personally, that’s something that really worked for me. I feel like you have a great amount of opportunities to get involved on campus, also off campus. That is something the American education, higher education, experience values.
When I first came, they were like: you’re not only student, you’re also an athlete, you’re also someone who is going to be in on clubs, someone who’s going to… I don’t know, go to yoga, like it’s so much more than just going to class and then study. And that personally helped me so much. You got so many experiences that you can use on your resume or for work related stuff. And also you get to meet people, which is also part of coming here.
How do you organize yourself to fulfill all your obligations and commitments? Does the university help you in any way with this task?
I feel like at Allegheny the help is out there and you have to go seek it out. At the beginning of freshman year, they tell you about all the resources you have available but you’re the one you need to get to those places. Personally, I consider myself as a very organized person. So I use Google Calendar for everything and then just stick to it.
Then in terms of resources available, we have class deans. You can make appointments with them and they would help you, literally whatever you want to: plan classes or figure out what you want to do after grad… We have a ‘career education’ department where they can help you with your resume, applying to places, connecting with alumni, writing consultants, and helping you with your essays…
How would you describe your university and its student ecosystem? Do they have any special traditions or activities?
I guess a fun fact is that our mascot is a gator. And we’re in the middle of Pennsylvania, so it makes absolutely no sense. Also, when you graduate you walk through ‘Bentley’: that’s the admin building where the President is and where all the offices are, so we walk through it, to the stage. That’s a cool tradition.
We’re known for Sustainability. We have an Environmental Science department that is super big and involved in ground work, hands on experiences and that kind of stuff.
Have you thought about what you would like to do when you graduate?
Great question. I have some ideas but I definitely do not know what the future is gonna hold for me. And probably, I don’t know, I have two majors and they’re both super broad. So I guess we’ll see.
What would you recommend to students who want to attend college in the U.S. in order to prepare themselves and find their ideal university?
I would recommend them to start as early as possible. Even if you’re in like Spanish 2ºESO, go for it and start doing research. I feel like a lot of me having a good experience at Allegheny comes from all the research that I’ve done previously, and figuring out what they want out of a college experience in the US. And then when you have that, then coming here is the easy part. So start early, like prepare the research and then everything will come.