Maria Tarre is among the dozens of St. Francis College international freshmen who enrolled this semester while continuing to reside in their hometowns abroad. In her case, that means living in Niterói, a small town in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Other SFC freshmen are currently taking their first-year courses from more than 20 countries around the globe, including Serbia, Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, and Uzbekistan
Maria recently shared what her experience has been so far as a St. Francis College freshman.
How did you choose to enroll at St. Francis College?
I guess the truth is that SFC chose me. Since the very first moment I heard about SFC, I knew this was where I was going to study. Everything related to it was absolutely perfect. The city where it is located, its staff, its values, I felt embraced since my first contact with people from the college and, after discovering that SFC has Franciscan values, it made me feel even more that
this was the right college for me. I had so many difficulties trying to find the right college and every step I had to take involving SFC felt it was meant to be. However, if I had to point one thing that made me chose this college was because of how welcomed I was and I am still am by everybody.
Have you decided on a major?
I haven't decided my major yet, but I am really considering Political Science. I have classes with Dr. [Reza] Fakhari and President Miguel [Martinez-Saenz] and I just love it.
What's been the best part of being part of a SFC Learning Community this year?
It's pretty hard to answer that, because the whole experience has been a full package for me. I had already been enrolled in college in Brazil and it was in-person classes, but I have never felt so embraced and part of a community as I feel right now. I guess that the best thing about this year's SFC Learning Community is the opportunity of having an international freshman group, in which all students are undergoing the same situation: studying in an American college but living in their hometown.
I would say this have been great because some other international students and I have been creating stronger bonds due to all we have been living and therefore, we I actually have to move and I will already be friend of some students. Also, the international staff and all the professor have been so caring with us, they are always making sure we feel part of SFC's community and that we are copying with the classes and everything else.
How has it been for you to take all your courses remotely and online this semester?
I would say it has been challenging. I have always been a very active person, so I don't like staying at home that much, but I can see a lot of positive sides of having remote classes. It's more flexible, so I have time to organize myself and then, study, work and have fun. Also, I can stay more time with my family and enjoy the last moments we have living together. Finally, I would say that besides the environment, there is not much difference between the in-person classes itself and the online ones. We still have a lot of things to study, a lot of assignments and discussions boards, so I cannot say that I haven't learned. In fact, I have learned much more than when I studied in Brazil in person.
Do you hope to eventually take courses in person at SFC, once the situation with COVID permits that?
Sure! That is my everyday hope.