200 Days in the Life of the College

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Far from home, a peak experience

By Jacob Sheetz-Willard ’12

In many ways, climbing a mountain is an apt metaphor for attending college. The hiker who comes prepared for some harsh terrain and unpredictable weather is more likely to enjoy his or her view from the summit. Likewise, the student who can adjust to the new social atmosphere and adapt to the rigorous academic standards will find college life both enjoyable and rewarding.

While some tread a well-beaten path, others follow more obscure routes up the mountain. For Sunrose Shrestha ’14, a native of Bhaktapur, Nepal, Hamilton College was well off the beaten path. Though Hamilton’s reputation for producing strong writers appealed to him, he had only a vague idea of what attending a small college 7,500 miles from home would entail. Like many international students, he is faced with navigating the cultural, linguistic and culinary idiosyncrasies of American life in addition to negotiating the new academic and social environment.

Luckily, Shrestha has chosen to take advantage of Adirondack Adventure, one of Hamilton’s two tremendously popular pre-orientation programs. “Not only has it been a great experience,” he asserts, “it has been a great way to transition into American culture.” New York’s 4,000-foot peaks may pale in comparison to the “majestic” Himalayas of his native Nepal, but traversing them with seven new classmates is an experience that has made the prospect of attending college in rural New York seem a little less daunting.