The International Perspective

Today’s blog post comes from first year MPA student, Jing Xu

As an international student, when I received my admission offer from SPEA, I had many questions about the program and Bloomington. What is the classroom culture like? How is Bloomington as a place to live? My transition from an undergraduate university in Canada to graduate school in Indiana has been smooth and contains positive, memorable experiences in both SPEA and Bloomington.

I am a little bit different from other international students. While I am originally from Beijing, China, I spent four years studying in Canada, which gave me a better understanding about North American culture and a better mastery of English language.

Since the beginning of my SPEA career, I have attended orientations (international, SPEA), Math Camp with Dr. Wakhungu, teamwork workshops, career fairs, professional student association callouts, and many other positive experiences. My positive experience started with admissions. There is something very unique about the SPEA admissions process to me: friendliness. Out of all the graduate schools that I applied, the SPEA Admissions team really cared about me throughout the process. I can still recall the online-chats when Megan and Claire from the Masters Program Office (MPO) helped me through the international application. Another positive experience is the SPEA Career Development Office (CDO). The CDO has been a great help with identifying my career opportunities and initiating the search for an internship. I had a constructive discussion with Susan at the CDO about particular career interests that prioritized my search for internship So far, my experience at SPEA has been affirming for my professional and academic aspirations.

My time in Bloomington has also been amazing. Any concerns about livability were overshadowed by the friendliness of the people in town and the beauty of Midwest living. It’s true that Bloomington is one of the best college towns in the US. Though I have not explored  all the wonders in town, I’ve discovered a few places to spend my spare time. As I live on my own, shopping is part of my weekly routine. I regularly go to Kroger and Marsh where I can find really good deals on groceries. Having a mall in town is also very convenient. For dining out, I sometimes go to Uptown Café on Kirkwood to enjoy a great Sunday brunch while immersing myself in the peaceful Bloomington downtown. Likewise, every Friday I spend a few hours volunteer at Monroe County Red Cross Club. It’s a great way to meet people and contribute to the community that I belong to, and as a non-profit management student, it’s also a great opportunity to learn about volunteering.

As final exams approach, my first semester at SPEA is almost complete. It is a memorable chapter of my overseas studying experience, and I look forward to continuing my professional journey with SPEA.


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