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A group of students gather at the Fresno State University Courtyard. (Benjamin Cruz/The Collegian)

Dorms are a home away from home

From Myanmar to Merced, students from all corners of the world call Fresno State their new home.

They left a whole life back home when they began as college freshmen.
And the transition from high school to college is not their only challenge. Settling in a new place to live can also prove difficult.

Sometimes, that new home is on a completely different continent, as it is for international student and freshman business major Htet Myet Da Na.

Da Na who moved from Myanmar, a country in Southeast Asia, said coming to college came with a lot of new experiences. In the beginning of this semester The Collegian reported that 169 international students were enrolled in Fresno State for this academic year.

“I was excited – it was my first time in the United States,” Da Na said as he remembered moving in just a month ago.

He said his biggest surprise about living on campus was the lack of space. He grew up in a large apartment, and now he is getting used to living in a small space with another roommate.

Another challenge was academics.

“I’m not used to the American teaching system, so I’m struggling with a lot of homework assignments,” Da Na said.

In Myanmar, Da Na said his school work was focused on one midterm exam and one final exam. His classes here are structured differently.

“In my country, we do not have a syllabus. We just need to attend the class and learn the lesson after the class,” Da Na said. “Here we have to read an article or book before attending the class.”

Da Na said he does not get homesick because he traveled a lot growing up. Coming to college in America was just a new opportunity for him, he said.

He said he is getting familiar with the lifestyle and enjoys his experience, so far.

“I like Fresno. [It’s] a cool place,” he said.
Josefina Gomez, a resident adviser at University Courtyard works closely with the freshmen. She assists students with their transition to college as well as being a resource for them as they live in the dorms.

“It is very exciting working with students who just moved in because you get to be a mentor for a lot of the freshman class,” Gomez said. “Sometimes it can be intimidating because some of the students are from different countries, but it’s always exciting to learn from them and help them grow as independent individuals.”

The staff helps students gain independence through multiple social and educational events it puts on.

The goal is to grow the students’ knowledge of university life while giving them an opportunity to make new friends, Gomez said.

Gomez likes seeing her students actively participating and not being afraid to ask questions.
“They see me as a mentor, but most importantly as a student that has been in their shoes,” Gomez said.

Daniel Lopez, a freshman living on campus, said goodbye to his home in Merced this past summer. His new life came with mixed feelings.

At 17, the kinesiology major started college and living on his own for the first time.

“I didn’t really know how to feel. It was kind of different, but I was excited,” he said.

He is getting involved as much as he can during his first year. He’s juggling university marching band and 19 units.

Lopez said dorm life is completely different from what he expected, mostly alone. But, he said he met friends who he hangs out with in the lobby of his dorm building.

With home being just a short drive north, Lopez said, he has had the opportunity to visit family more often.

“I’ve gone a few weekends already. My Mom misses me. She cries a lot,” Lopez said.

“My Dad [is] like, ‘Call me whenever, I’m fine.’”

Lopez said he’s happy he has taken on new experiences in his short time living at the dorms.