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Adrian Rong Qian Pang's picture

A Letter for Incoming and Future Gophers

Hi! I hope all of you are doing great with life and I hope everything is great for you guys!

I received an email from an incoming Malaysian to the University and I have given my thoughts about the U from all aspects as well as from my personal experiences. As I was replying him, I thought that maybe what I was writing could be useful to other incoming and future international students as well. So I have decided to share this email I've sent to this future Gopher with all of you! 

P.S. Some parts of the email apply more to Malaysians but it can be relevant to all international students. =)

Hey XXX, 

I feel so excited for you and I hope you are stoked for the next chapter of your education career as well as your life here. I'm really glad that you reached out to ambassador Yang Yang and I to better prepare yourself for what's coming your way.
First and for all congrats on your admission to the U and I am really excited for your impending arrival to the States, to Minnesota to be a new Gopher (you're a baby Gopher now haha). Well, you've thrown out a huge question to both of us and since there are so many things that can be talked about in general, I'll speak from my personal experiences at the U thus far - academically, social life and etc. I am Adrian Pang from Kuala Lumpur and I joined the U in the Spring 2015 semester. I am currently doing a double major in Sociology and Global Studies at the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) as well as a minor in Management at the Carlson School of Management (CSOM). Since Sociology and Global Studies are very different from Computer Science or Engineering, I will only speak of my from my own experiences. As you've probably heard, university is very different from high school and college is where you need to look after yourself in all aspects expecially in academic matters. You will need to reach out to professors, teaching assistants (TA) and people first when you encounter any problems. In terms of professors and the classes, you are responsible for the courses you signed up for and regardless of how one professor conducts his or her classes, you just have to find a way to work together with them. But fear not, I am very confident that the professors that you will be working with, whether in class or in research will be of quality and with good personalities. Most of the professors I've worked with exude wisdom, friendliness and wealth in knowledge of their disciplines. The same can be applied to the TAs, as most TAs are handpicked by their respecive departments which have high requirements and expectations on them. After all, they are the cornerstone of the U's top ranking status in the world. Oh and one more thing, do expect having lessons in classes of 20 people to lectures of 600 people in a hall, yeap I've been in these classes / lectures, and I was blown away!
Well, enough of me blabbering about academic stuffs, which I am pretty sure you will adapt to your new academic environments very soon! Let us move on to the fun stuff, the social life here. One word, FUN. As Malaysians, we might pride ourselves about Malaysia's diversity but when you join a public university as big as the U, you'll see the people from every corner of the world on campus. So far I've met people from Norway, Sweden, Spain, the U.K, France, Albania, Cyprus, Mongolia, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, Nigeria, Kenya and the list goes on. And the great thing about the diversity on campus, people like to meet each other and know more about our cultures and vice versa. Even the local students like to know more about us regardless of what and how the media is portraying the topic of race. However, you have to bear in mind that making friends can be tricky at times, as many local and international students will like to know us, the equal number of people might just be passerby in your life at the U, even in class! Yes, it's daunting and scary to think about being alone in class somtimes (or many times) but it's a learning process. Again, reach out to people first and even if they are reluctant to go further than being classmates, respect them as your classmates at most (I almost said walk away, so cliche but dont do that haha). So, what to do when you really feel like having some close friends in a land halfway across from home? Get to know fellow Malaysians on campus of course! The best way of knowing Malaysians is to join PERSISMA (Minnesota Malaysian Student Association). PERSISMA is one of the oldest Malaysian Student Association in the states and we are a well established cultural society on campus. People knows us! PERSISMA is very active every semesters in showcasing Malaysian cultures as well as connecting Malaysians. I was the Program Director of the Malaysian Night 2016 that just happened last week and I got to know so many more Malaysians on campus! Apart from PERSISMA, you can also particiapte in many other societies. I, for instance like to be busy and that is why I'm involved in so many extra-curricular activities such as being a Member of the Minnesota Student Association (MSA) - the student government body of the university, a member of the International Student Ambassador Program (ISA) - which explains why you're connected to me, a member of th Tau Sigma National Honor Society, a research assistant at the Minnesota Population Center and I am studying abroad in Germany in the summer. These are all the experiences that have helped me grown and mature further and I hope similar experiences will do the same thing for you as well when you're on campus. Oh, did I forget to mention there are funky and fun societies to join as well? There is actually a University Dota society which brings Dota players from all over campus and their weekly meetings are to play rounds and rounds of Dota! The best players even get to represent the university in competitions! Why am I talking so much?! And finally, sport is a big thing at the U and in the States in general, there are so many sport facilities on campus and wait until you see the recreation center a.k.a the gym, I'm pretty sure you'll be blown away.
Last but not least, the job prospect of students at the U is good in general. But again, it all boils down to your own hardwork, social connections and  passions that will pave the way for you in the future. It is very competitive at the U but then again, where isn't it? So for now, lay down a strong foundation academically, expand your social circles and work for things that will only benefit you in the long run. The harder you work,the luckier you'll get. However, I cannot tell you how the job market will be because the labor market is very volatile but Minneapolis is a growing city in the Midwest and job prospect is improving annually so it's a good decision to come to Minnesota.
Well, that's all for now, this is all I have in mind now. Sorry for writing a paper to you haha! I hope this will give you basic insights about the U. I am really glad you've reached out to me and I hope to see you in the near future! Good luck!
Adrian Pang
Sociology | Global Studies
Department of Sociology | Institute for Global Studies
Honors Student
University Honors Program
University of Minnesota Twin Cities