Lucy Borivenpaisal is an international student majoring in nutritional biochemistry and metabolism at CWRU. She shares how she embraced campus life by getting involved in various organizations - even when doing so was intimidating - and how her experience studying in the U.S. changed her career path and her world view.
How did you decide to study at CWRU?
I've always been interested in the sciences and potentially doing research, so going to the U.S. for college was always in my mind. I chose to attend CWRU because it fitted the main qualities I was looking for in a college: a strong science program, high involvement of undergraduate students in research, strong connections with nearby hospitals and a small student body. I also appreciated the flexibility that CWRU has for declaring/changing majors as I wasn’t sure what specific major I wanted to pursue at the time.
What are some of the differences or similarities you noticed in the learning style or classroom experience while studying here at CWRU? How did you deal with those and adjust?
The big lecture halls and even the smaller classes with 40-50 people at CWRU were much bigger than the class size I had in high school, which meant there was less one-on-one interaction with the professor. I adjusted to the classroom size by going to professors’ office hours and taking the initiative to approach them first, instead of waiting for them to make the initial contact.
Tell us about an experience where you had to go outside of your comfort zone. How did it go?
I stepped out of my comfort zone when I decided to go through the semester-long process of becoming an official member of my co-ed fraternity after hesitating for a semester. It was a scary yet exciting experience as I went into the process not knowing anyone nor having any familiarity with the concept of fraternities, but through the fraternity, I found some of my best friends and mentors.
What is something you wish you would have known before coming to study in the U.S.?
I wish I knew about the Vietnamese/Thai community at Case before coming here. I didn’t know about them until I arrived on campus. It definitely would’ve made the idea and process of going half-way across the world to study less nerve-wracking knowing that I had people that I could go to for advice or company once I arrived in the U.S.
Tell us about a time when it was clear you were no longer in your home country. What made you have this realization and how did you handle it?
It was clear that I was no longer home when I wanted to go to New York and it was almost 2-hour plane ride. If I was home, 2 hours would’ve taken me to a different country.
What obstacles did you think you would encounter when you were planning to study in the U.S.? If you did encounter them, how did you overcome those obstacles?
I am a very family-oriented person, so I knew that being away from my family would be something I had to overcome when studying abroad. When I got to CWRU, I overcame that by finding a close group of friends that I could hang out with, and call family away from home.
What is your favorite thing about studying at CWRU so far?
Definitely the people I've met over the years through my extracurricular, classes and events.
What are your career aspirations? How do you think this experience will help you in your career?
I would like to pursue a career in R&D in the food industry, or research in the nutrition/biochemistry field and eventually be a part of an international NGO or IGO. At CWRU, I have the opportunity to be in a laboratory setting and improve my global awareness through my interactions with the diverse CWRU community. These experiences will no doubt be beneficial in developing my professional and interpersonal skills in my future career.
How has this experience changed the way you think about the world?
Being at CWRU showed me that we all may be from different cultures and parts of the world, but there is always something we can find in common with one another and connect over it.
What advice would you give to other international students considering studying at CWRU?
Cleveland may not be a popular city for international students like Boston or New York, and its winter may be harsh, but don’t deter from CWRU for this reason. There are many hidden gems in this city and CWRU’s surroundings are beautiful. Do your research. Look for clubs and organizations that interest you. Find a community of people from the same background as you, but also befriend locals and people from different cultures. They’ll definitely open your eyes to the world, and you’ll also open theirs.