First Week of Class–Natalia Leyba

It is kind of crazy how fast and how slow the first week of the fall semester feels. Between getting used to waking up early, the class schedule, and all the other things we have to do to get ready for each class, it feels like I am running through the week.On the other hand, the moment that I get time to check where I am in the week, I realize that somehow it is only Wednesday. In only these three days, I have already moved out, moved in, bought furniture, gone grocery shopping, bought my books, went to the part-time job fair, met with the organizations I am part of, gotten my access codes, and on top of it all, already started doing the homework I’ve been assigned on the first couple of days. Being back still feels so right, though. The rush makes things feel so exciting, and seeing those people you haven’t seen in months is always nice.

One of the most important things, in my opinion, about this first week is how you decide to manage your time; no matter if it is the time in between your classes or your free time before and after class. Finding those breaks when you can eat, sleep, do homework, or meet with your friends will help you get into your routine and make the semester flow so much better. Even though this first week is not at all like the rest of the semester, it will definitely help you make an estimate of how it will actually be for most of the weeks and that way, next week, when the classes start giving heavier content and heavier homework, you will definitely be more prepared to take it on. This first week is also a good time to consider whether the classes you picked are the right match for you. Is there enough time for you to do well in all these subjects? Will this actually help you in your college path? Are you prepared enough for this material? And even though most of the time the answer will be yes, sometimes, if you are not sure or feel like maybe it is too much to take, the answer might be no. If so you should definitely rethink it fast to see if maybe you should change your schedule or switch your courses a little bit before the drop deadline.

Don’t let the stress of this week get too much to you because it will pass (mostly). There’s so many exciting things about this new year and the ups will definitely defeat the downs. No matter what, after all this time, being back on campus feels so familiar; and even though some of those memories are more stressful than I would like them to be, there are still so many good memories from the past year here at KU. And even if this is your first year, I assure you these memories will come and next year you will be feeling mostly the same way.


What keeps surprising me about KU–Natalia Leyba

My experience at KU has been really amazing this first year. It definitely lived up to my hopes for it and surprised me in really good ways. The classes, the activities and the people especially are several of the many things that have surprised me the most about KU. I’ve been challenged and inspired more than I ever expected in my classes and mostly in a positive way. The projects and lectures not only have engaged me and interested me but also they have made me realise what I like and don’t like as well as taught me how to work with different kinds of people in many different ways. Most importantly they have also helped me start deciding exactly what I want to do with my life. Every single class has given me a lot of knowledge and experience I didn’t have before. They all have helped me grow, as a professional and also as a person. Also, even if it’s hard to believe, most of the teachers in these classes are genuinely interested in our growth and our learning. They are mostly reachable and understanding and will always try their best to help us, not only in the content of the classes but also by advising us in career choices and our paths during our time in the university.

Activities, either academic, social or student organizations oriented, have also shaped me during this year. Most of the activities I’ve participated during this academic year have been several of the most meaningful experiences I’ve ever had. These activities have helped me realize the things I am the most passionate about and have given more experience about how to interact with new people and so many issues surrounding me. KU’s Big (volunteering) Event, KU’s International Nights at the Students Union, Tea at 3 every Thursday, and the Engineering Expo are several of the many great events I’ve attended, participated in, and enjoyed only during this Spring semester. And not only have the events themselves been incredible, but many of the people I’ve met during these activities are now people I can trust and that I consider my closest  friends. You won’t believe how many incredible people share your interests that at KU, especially during the events for the things you are the most passionate about. KU’s atmosphere has been so incredible due to the people that are around–the students, teachers and faculty give life to KU and I honestly have not had any bad experience regarding the people in the university. The student groups have been so important to me because not only have they allowed me to bond with people that like the same things I do, but also because they have given me a place where I can do the many things and activities that are important to me.

KU keeps surprising me through every new event, class, and person I meet and I am sure it will continue to surprise me throughout the 3 years I have left in the university. I am also sure I am not alone in this and that there is a lot of students that also keep being surprised by the many things this campus, these people, and this university have to offer.

Class Projects–Natalia

Class projects are a very important part of college life. For most classes, you will have at least one project per semester, in addition to “homework” that takes more than 3 days to do. These projects challenge us and make us grow as professionals and also as individuals. Even though most projects will frustrate us for the most part, the reward that comes with being able to figure them out is priceless. It’s hard to describe the feeling I get when, after sitting in front of a computer for more than 3 hours, I am able to make a program work. Creating programs, developing equations, and plotting vector fields are several of the focuses of the projects I’ve done. And even though at times I thought I would never be able to figure them out, with the help of classmates, teammates, teachers, teaching assistants, and most importantly, Google, I was able to make it through and accomplish things I consider pretty amazing. With these projects not only do you learn how to work with things you’ve never heard of in your life, but also you learn how to adapt, how to research and how to work with lots of different people. One of the latest projects I’ve done this semester was to create and adapt several parametric equations to 3D plot and print several kinds of pasta (yes, pasta), for my Calculus 3 class. Even though this project might sound ridiculous, it’s honestly been one of the hardest and most time consuming projects I’ve done. This project allowed me to develop my critical thinking skills as well as expanded my knowledge of the 3D space. Who would have thought you could do so many noodles with Cosines and Sines?

As a future engineer, the projects I’ve had to do in my short time at KU are mostly related to several sciences, and consequently, my experiences with projects might not be the same as those of somebody majoring in Global and International Studies, Human Biology, or even Education. Focuses and types of projects will vary, the experiences you get out of all of them will be completely different, and the tools you’ll need to accomplish them will also not be the same. Also, as we are all different and we all have different goals, all the projects we make will have a different emphasis and a different perspective. Whether you write, read, or make, all projects will have one thing in common, and that is that you will have to work really hard on them, you will learn to cooperate and coordinate with more people to get them done, and you will get a lot of new knowledge after you finish them.

Even though sometimes I talk about projects like they are the worst thing ever, the truth is that finishing projects and the process of getting them together gives the most amazing feeling of accomplishment. And not only will these projects allow you to make it through college, but they will also prepare you for life outside of the university, when the only things you’ll have to work on are actual projects.




Winter Break–Natalia Leyba

After fall semester finals, we finally get a well deserved and highly needed break. Here at KU, we usually get around three weeks to either go home and rest or to travel around the US. Even though going home sounds amazing after the first semester away from friends and family, staying around the area is always a good choice. Chicago, St Louis, and the beautiful mountains in Colorado are amazing places to visit during the break and only a train ride away. Last year during the break I decided to go to Chicago for a week and I can honestly say that my time there was as amazing as it can be. Bright and busy main streets, huge public parks, museums, aquariums and zoos are several of the great things I enjoyed in only one week and I’m sure that every person you ask will tell you the same thing.

Here at KU, you’ll enjoy a perfect central location to decide which state you would like to visit during any given break. Even though a lot of places will still be pretty cold during the break, you will definitely get a new experience by enjoying the snow and the Christmas decorations in most cities nearby. As you will meet a lot of people from all over the US, you will always also have the option to ask about the best places to go during the Holidays and get great recommendations from all kinds of people. As I wasn’t able to go home this winter break, I decided to go visit some family here in the US. I spent around two weeks in Miami during the holidays, enjoying the nice weather and the company from some familiar faces. KU will give you amazing stories to tell while visiting friends and family; and I can assure you that every time people ask you how was your first semester here at KU, it will bring you great memories.

Even though university life will change you, everything will still feel extremely familiar when you visit home. This newly acquired independence will influence and change your perspective on the world around you, allowing you to appreciate home and family even more. The new environments that you’ll discover will expand your knowledge of different cultures giving you the opportunity to share these different points of view with your family and friends back at home. Back at home, during the break, you’ll realize how much you’ve grown and changed in just a couple months thanks to your life here at KU.

International Student Association–Natalia Leyba

Here at KU, ISA stands for “International Student Association;” this is a student organization that organizes activities for all students to participate in, especially aiming to include the international students at KU. ISA is a very welcoming club that you’ll meet during your orientation week; they’ll make you feel a part of something in your first couple days. It’s also a great club to meet people from all over the world and from every department here at KU. Their main events are an amazing Halloween party at the Cave with a great dance floor and great music, and a Thanksgiving dinner with different foods from all over the world. At both events, you’ll get to have fun with your friends and meet more people as well as enjoy some new celebrations that are traditions here in the US. They are also good breaks from the long semester that is finally coming to an end. As the fall comes, you’ll get to experience these changes while enjoying what KU and ISA has to offer with other international and American students.

Halloween in the United States is one of the biggest celebrations of the year, and at KU, the ISA party is one of the main events, if not the main event, during Halloween weekend. You can go with your friends or alone because there you’ll surely see familiar faces, and if you like to dance and to have a good time, this will be the event for you. You can go with or without a costume (even though with a costume is still way more fun) and enjoy dressing up while looking at the amazing costumes some people put together. Thanksgiving comes a couple of week after Halloween and even though it is a completely different event, ISA also organizes a dinner to get everybody together for this time and to collect funds for different projects, such as giving gifts to children in need. You can collaborate, providing your own typical food for the dinner or by donating to the club. At the dinner, you’ll get to decide what food you want to eat out of all the options ISA provides. You’ll get to enjoy food from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America besides the typical thanksgiving food from the US. There is also some nice music to listen to while having a good time with your friends.

During your time at KU, the International Student Association will organize great activities for international and American students, and you’ll get a great experience by sharing new traditions and experiences with new people. This group of people will represent International students on campus and by being part of it, you’ll feel more integrated to campus life and you’ll also get to share all these new experiences with people who are in the same position as you. I feel that thanks to the ISA, I’ve meet a lot of my friends and a lot of great people, and I’ve also enjoyed campus activities and new traditions during my short time here at KU.

Why I Chose the University of Kansas–Natalia Leyba

If you asked me six months ago if I was going to the University of Kansas to get my undergraduate degree, I would’ve told you I wasn’t. Six months ago, I had already been accepted to my 1st choice and was already planning on going there this fall. Then in April, I got my acceptance letter from KU, and even though I didn’t think I would be going here, I decided to check KU’s opportunities. While checking KU’s programs and organizations, I discovered that maybe there was a better choice for me. Since I was little, I’ve always been an overachiever and so I’ve always wanted to do more, to know more. This is probably the reason that when I was told I would have to pick one thing to focus on for my professional life, I didn’t know what to do. I went from wanting to study medicine to economics, from economics to language, from language to engineering, and so on. And here lies the main reason I changed my choice to KU and the reason I would recommend KU to anybody that wanted to pursue a higher level of education: because while looking at KU’s values, organizations and opportunities I noticed that maybe I didn’t have to completely choose. I picked KU because I didn’t want to do just one thing; I wanted to be able to do different things at the same time, to be able to study engineering while learning new languages, doing community service, playing sports, and practicing public speaking. The Honors Program, the Center for Community Outreach, the Student Senate, the IMLeagues, and the Center for Undergraduate Research are only several of the programs available in KU that will allow me to accomplish all my goals and connect with people who enjoy the same things I do. Here I would be the best engineer I could be while getting a minor, learning German, spending weekends helping the community, and leading an organization. And not only this but it will also help me pick the career I want, giving me the tools I need to get even more opportunities after my years here because the secret to a successful life is to be able to do different things, to have perspective, to be resourceful, and not just to be great at only one thing.

Most people say that university is the best time of your life, and your choices during this time will define who you are going to be for the rest of your life. I picked KU because I can confidently say that here I can have the best time of my life, doing everything I love, becoming the well-grounded, integral individual that I want to be and also because here I will get the knowledge I need to be successful and build a career. Any person that wants to learn and accomplish their goals while still enjoying other activities they love will find that KU is the perfect place to do so.

Now I am more than a month into my first semester at KU, and I can tell you I made the right choice. Now I am part of more than three different programs that I enjoy every week. I’ve gotten to know so many amazing people who like the same things I do and great teachers who will help me be the best I can be. There’s always something happening on campus that I can be a part of, and everybody is more welcoming than I ever imagined. The classes are great, the people even greater, and the extra-curricular activities you pick from are endless. I’m positive, no matter what you like, you will feel the same way if you pick KU.

-Natalia Leyba


The Academic Experience at KU–Anh Le Nhat

To all international Jayhawks – I hope you guys survived Finals Week and will enjoy your summer! This year, I had four finals and a couple papers due, which made it one of the most challenging weeks I’ve had so far at KU. There is a lot of pressure to do well on finals (due to the weight on the final grade as well as the cumulative material), and I assume that most Jayhawks would agree with me that Finals Week is not the most enjoyable aspect of the academic experience at KU. That being said, Finals Week will most likely not define your academic experience, and in this blog, I will tell you about my favorite academic aspects that I have enjoyed here at KU.

  1. The abundant support from faculty: The faculty at KU wants to see students to be successful, and it shows through the tremendous support that faculty gives to students. Aside from office hours and academic support, faculty also tries to help students financially by issuing scholarships and hiring teaching assistants. For a lot of international students like me, who are paying the out-of-state tuition rate, financial support is always greatly appreciated, because it lifts off the financial burden and allows students to focus their time and effort on their college experience. This was the case for me, as I was recently awarded the Devlin Fellowship from The School of Business Mentorship Program, which granted me financial assistance as well as an opportunity to work with a faculty mentor on a research project that is of my interest.
  2. Opportunities to get involved above and beyond the classroom experience: Aside from faculty support, The University also offers students other opportunities to apply their classroom knowledge and develop their professionalism. One of the most popular options that KU students can take advantage of is Study Abroad, which helps students to engage with a different academic experience and develop an appreciation of diversity and cross-cultural competence. KU is known for its stellar program that lets students participate in exchanges all over the world; nearly 25 percent of KU undergraduate students participate in a study abroad program prior to graduation. Aside from Study Abroad, students can also deepen their knowledge through research opportunities, service learning, and academic organizations on campus.
  3. Learn from peers from all paths of life: In my personal opinion, one of the most rewarding aspects of being a Jayhawk is meeting all people from different backgrounds and cultures. At KU, I was fortunate to meet and learn with students from all 50 states and 105 countries. Personally, I have learned to become more well-rounded and gained valuable cultural experience from others, thanks to the daily interactions I have with my classmates and co-workers. KU has given me an opportunity to be exposed to different walks of life that I am extremely grateful for.

Looking back, the academic experience at KU has helped me to blossom intellectually and become a well-rounded individual in society. Let me know what you think, because I think it is definitely an interesting topic for discussion, especially under the lenses of international Jayhawks like us. Have a great, relaxing and productive summer, and until next time, peace!

Anh Le is a Jayhawk senior from Hanoi, Vietnam, majoring in Finance and Information Systems. He loves traveling, reading, playing sports and learning about business and technology. He is currently the Resident Assistant of Gertrude Sellards Pearson Residence Hall and a student in KU School Of Business. He is also in the Honors Program and is an International Student Ambassador for the Office of International Recruitment and Undergraduate Admissions.