Hello, my name is Jose. I’m at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. I’m a junior right now, majoring in Psychology and Film Studies. I was part of the soccer varsity team for a year, a whole season in my sophomore year. And I also take part in clubs over there. I help in a club regarding film studies and a production company on campus. And besides that, outside of classes, I have two small companies back in Spain, where I’m from, in Madrid, one of them is a production company: we make advertising videos and documentaries mainly. And the other one’s an advertising agency where we specialize in adverts for social media and young people.
How is this year going? Tell us about your majors, your life at Wesleyan…
Yeah, so I remember while I was applying… actually not even applying, looking for places, David helped me out a lot through Access USA. He helped me out because I wasn’t really sure what I wanted. First of all, I didn’t know what I wanted to study. Second of all, I didn’t know where I wanted to go. So I needed a bit of guidance in that sense. And then I was as we were just talking before we started recording, he definitely did help me out in that, in figuring it out. I had a lot of pressure, not pressure but my family was very keen on me going to a good place as always, so like a very selective university, like they say, and Wesleyan came up. It didn’t seem like the option that would fit right because I didn’t have the necessarily the best grades in the world. But the application process was very open. I remember that we didn’t think I would get into Wes because like I said very selective and not necessarily the place that they would accept someone with my grades but they did. And surprisingly, Wes is the perfect fit after being there for three years.
How were those first days and weeks when you arrived in the US?
Interesting. So actually, my freshman year was online. So my freshman year was not too bad. I was at home eating Spanish food. So it wasn’t bad. But my sophomore year, it was interesting. So I’ve been to boarding schools before. I’d studied outside my house before and lived in different countries. So, for me it wasn’t too much of a shock. But yeah, it was fun. I had a roommate, who still to this day lives with me in the same house. We’re actually best friends. We talk all the time. I was talking to him yesterday. I was also part of the soccer team. So that was very useful to be able to have a lot of friends and people I knew there, basically. And what else and then I moved around. I did a bunch of social stuff that happened the first couple of weeks, like Freshmans Week and there’s a lot of things happening. My classes were fun. I get to meet people… the first weeks are always nice. You don’t have much work, so it’s nice.
Being now a Junior at Wes, what do you recommend the most from your experience in and out of the classroom? What advice would you give to new students in order to break even and enjoy their experience the most?
Move. Meet people, move around, leave your room because it’s easy to stay in your room. I remember like doing the application process and hearing people giving advice. It’s true. You have to do that as much as you can. The soccer team was the easiest thing for me because I was just going to play sports and I just met about 35 guys, all my friends basically, quite quickly. So try and join the team. If you play a sport, that’s always an easy one. There’s a million clubs in every university, so try and join a club. It’s rare that you won’t find a club that you can have friends in. It’s scary and you probably don’t want to do it but it’s always worth it. Also in class… Wesleyan classes are very dynamic. Some of them are lectures but some are like group work. So you meet people there, going for lunch… Different things. I would recommend leaving the room and doing stuff especially in the early weeks because then you can lock yourself in your room and you’re fine, but the first month or so, do stuff.
Talk us through all the projects you’re being part of. We knew recently it’s been a true rollercoaster for you during these years.
It’s not easy, but it’s being fun. So like I said the soccer team, there’s two things in the soccer team in the US, for Varsity: You either get selected, or you get you walk on, so you basically say ‘I want to play you try out’ and they pick you up, so I did the walk on part and they selected me, because they didn’t have enough goalkeepers. I’m not that good.
The other one, the clubs, it was easy to join. You just go to the meetings. And then the other stuff I’m doing which is really what takes up most of my life is the company stuff. It’s really fun, but it’s outside my class completely. And obviously there’s a time difference between Madrid and Boston timezone. We are basically running a company, one of my companies, we have like six people hired so it’s a full operation and the other one, the production company one, we always have projects. So the way we do it is: I have a business partner back home, and he helps me out. Basically he’s like 30 years old. He’s like nine years older than me or eight years older than me. And he runs, he runs everything. He runs it on site and I do it from a distance. I wake up very early every day. I wake up at like 7am to work and I work before my classes. I go to class, I work with phone calls, emails, all the company stuff that requires me; then I go to my classes, have lunch or whatever and then do my work my Wesleyan work at night and keep on working during the times that, in Spain are still awake.
How do you organize yourself to fulfill all your obligations and commitments? Does the university help you in any way with this task?
They do. They don’t help me out, like on purpose, but they’re very flexible. I can pick my classes every semester and I know what the time is going to be for each class. So I know, for example, that whenever my film class is going to be on a Monday at like 2pm. So I can pick classes according to what I think I’m going to be doing next semester. So they helped me out by being very flexible. Wesleyan also has an open curriculum. So I’m not required to do stuff. One semester I could do drawing class if I wanted to, and that would be a bit more relaxed so I would have more time to do my company stuff or something else like a club so that’s how they helped me out.
Could you describe a typical day for you at Wesleyan? How would you describe your university and its student ecosystem? Do they have any special habits or activities?
The common conception is that ‘Wes’ is weird. You will see that if you look anywhere on the internet, but I don’t see it that way. Obviously there are more eccentric people that you’ll find anywhere else. There’s people who have weird interests, like we were just saying, there’s a Fire Spitting Club and a Juggling Club. You won’t find that in many universities in the world.
It has very arty ecosystems. There’s always concerts, concerts are a huge thing. There’s always people doing stand up comedy… There’s people who cook and then you can go and pay for dinner in their apartment… There’s a lot of like, outside of the box type of things that happen at Wesleyan. But there’s obviously the normal ecosystem as well. There’s just student athletes who are all mostly economic majors, if I’m honest with you, they all study math and Econ. But there’s also that ecosystem and that world where it’s much what you’d expect. There’s also like the arts, the literature people… it’s a very wide mix. So West is weird? West is varied, if anything.
And walking around. Like I said, it’s not a huge place, but it’s not tiny. So you get to see new people all the time and I think it’s a nice place.
Have you thought about what you would like to do when you graduate? Maybe stick to those companies you were talking about or maybe try to go for a different path?
It’s a good question I ask myself all the time. I’m not really sure. I think, if you asked me a year ago, I would have said I don’t really know, because the companies are actually a lot more established now. I think I will stick with that for now. I mean, I have two companies. They actually seem to be making a bit of money so hopefully we can stick to that. But you never know with startup stuff and entrepreneurship. It can go down the drain very quickly. So my plan is to do that. But I would not be surprised if in the near future, I’m back in the US working, because I have friends there and there’s different places I’d like to live and work. Miami for example is an interesting one. Yeah, so maybe going back to the US later on, but for now sticking with the company stuff for sure.
What would you recommend to students who want to attend college in the U.S. in order to prepare themselves and follow your footsteps or maybe find their ideal university?
I would definitely recommend, well, if you’re doing it through Access USA, which is what I did, definitely open up your ears because like I said, I didn’t know where I was going. I didn’t know what I wanted to do or where I was very lost. And I needed a tiny bit of guidance to know what I was doing and that helped me out. Having people who know more than you, tell you about their own experience is always useful. So listen up. That’s always a good piece of advice. And then, I don’t know, it’s good to travel. I mean, I’ve lived in three different countries in my life. I lived in the French Alps. I lived in England, and I’ve lived now in the US, all of them in schools. And it’s a great thing. I have friends all around the world. I know people from all different places. You get to meet different cultures. I think I would definitely recommend traveling and if you can go into the US, the US has a lot of options. So obviously make sure you find one that you think it’s fit but most of the options will be good for an international student, seeing as you just get to experience a different culture. But I would definitely recommend going abroad and studying somewhere else. It’s one of the best things you can do.