A Whole New World

Mar 10, 2020
Sydney Hencil

College- the dictionary definition from Google states: “This is an educational institution or establishment that provides higher education or specialized professional or vocational training.”

But to me, and I’m sure 99.9 percent of other students, college is a whole new world. A world that can feel like a battle field some days.

I came to the US as part of the Georgia Rotary Student Program (GRSP).  Originally, I am from Zimbabwe, a small country in southern Africa.  The GRSP is the only one of its kind that offers students from around the world an opportunity to attend a university with in the state of Georgia for one year with the goal of promoting world peace.  In my year, 2018-2019, we were a total of 45 students from around the world.  Naturally, as part of the program, I had to attend a university.  This is where my journey brings me to Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia.  You see, the way this program works is that you do not choose the university you attend, the Rotary Clubs do.  I had no idea what it was going to be like.  Neither did I know that I would be attending a college with a rich history in being an historically women’s college.

Sydney Hencil at the International Students Dinner. (Photo credit: ©AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

When I first arrived on campus, it was a war zone.  Many cars were pulled up for move in day, piles of boxes and refrigerators were littered across the front lawn of the dorms.  Cars were honking, people were shouting, it was chaotic.  But, despite all of this I saw the light in the tunnel as a student assistant greeted me with a smile and offered to help me get all my things into my room to start settling in.  Not only were the people so nice and welcoming, the college itself was so beautiful that I was excited to soon call it home.  You see Brenau is over 140 years old and still holds its historic style well.  When looking out to the front of the main building, it feels like you have traveled back in time. The main building, which holds the dining hall and a set of dorms, is a part of the house of the original owner of the school and still stands today with some of his furniture.  Flags of many of the international students adorn the student center building, while colourful flowers grace the porches of many of the dormitories and sorority houses.  This school is beautiful.  The pictures did not lie.

After my first battle of getting all my things up the stairs to my room, the place that would be home for the next year, I had finally come across my neighbours.  This was one of the most memorable moments of that first week.  My suite mates were athletes, both on the soccer team and incredibly nice people.  My host dad had just left and I was sitting on my bed when it happened.  One of the girls, Stina, peaked her head in and her face just lit up.  She walked in with some of her team mates and my other suite mate Becca.  It was after I had introduced myself that the questions started coming.

I enjoy when that happens as it allows for both parties to understand the other more.  The exchange of information allows for deeper world understanding.  I already felt welcome as they were interested in knowing where I come from and how things are done in my country, just as I was excited to start learning about their culture.  It was then that I knew that this was going to be a crazy year.  And it was only the beginning.

Fast forward a year and a half, I am still experiencing as much excitement as I did on that move in day.  Each day is a new adventure.  The people here have a way of making you feel so welcome.  I look forward to each day knowing it will be different.  There is always something to look forward to at Brenau.

by: Sydney Hencil
sophomore, Mass Communication/Media Studies