University of Geneva, Switzerland
Anne-Catherine comes from a vastly different place than Smith. She studied at the University of Geneva, in the French-speaking part of Switzerland before joining the American Studies Diploma Program to make her first trip to the United States. However, despite going to a very different school and living in a different environment, she is getting along well at Smith.
Coming to Smith seemed the natural thing for Anne-Catherine to do. She knew that she wanted to study in a foreign country, and although she had traveled in Europe before, she had not had the chance to visit other continents very often. America was the farthest away from the "old traditions" that she was used to in Switzerland. She had also studied English literature in Geneva, so America seemed like the ideal place to go. "A teacher encouraged me to go to Smith because she had done so about 15 years ago," she says, and which is why she is here now and ready to learn.
Going to a women's college is "very different" she says. There aren't any all-women's colleges where she is from "but it was actually something that I wanted to try, and I quite like it." She says that she finds that being at Smith helps her focus on her studies.
At the University of Geneva she fell in love with French and English literature, which she plans to continue investigating at Smith. But she says "there was an ancient tradition of ex-cathedra, which means that the teacher speaks from the chair... you had absolutely no possibility to interact with the teacher and that results in a relationship with the teachers that is very distant." Now she is at Smith where the teachers are more approachable and students are encouraged to interact in class, which was something she was looking for in a school.
Another aspect of the Smith experience that is different from her learning experience at the University of Geneva is the campus life. In Geneva there was not the campus aspect to the University, which meant that she lived by herself. "Geneva University is in the city, and that means that you can be really alone, whereas on campus it is nice because you are always encircled by people and you are never alone. That is one of the biggest changes and something that I really wanted to experience," She said.
But on top of being an enthusiastic scholar and dedicated student, Anne-Catherine is also an accomplished violinist. She continues to study the violin here at Smith and is even considering a career in music.
All in all Anne-Catherine has a bright future ahead of her. She is at a school where she is encouraged to learn by professors who take an interest in her, and she is able to practice her violin. She is being prepared for her later music and literature studies either in Switzerland or abroad, and getting ready for the journey that she has just begun.
By Zoe Falk '14, Global STRIDE Fellow
As part of the Global STRIDE fellowship, the fellows interviewed and profiled international students in the college's graduate program in American Studies, to help familiarize them with people who have made cultural transitions.