Ayaki Kimura '17Assistant Opinions Editor
I still remember my first day at Smith, walking up the steps of Lamont to check in for the international students’ pre-orientation, feeling nervous and excited, as well as slightly overwhelmed. Thoughts rushed through my mind: would I do well here? Would this place, thousands of miles away from where I had been living in Vietnam, eventually feel like a second home? Most importantly, was I going to be able to handle the climate change and survive the winters, or would I turn into a snowball and perish? It was my first time living abroad by myself. Up until then, although I had lived in different countries and adjusted to new environments, I always had my family with me for guidance. When I first came to Smith, the campus felt huge—simply travelling from Lamont to the Smith Convenience Store was a journey that yielded discoveries and surprises along the way. I recall having the campus map glued to my hands for the first few weeks. Fortunately, I was able to find my bearings after a while and am now proud to say that I’ve fulfilled my goal of travelling to all parts of the campus, and have mastered the use of the Smartphone app to dining-hall-jump, fully capitalizing my dining experiences (second-round dinners and desserts, anyone?). Despite my lingering mixed feelings towards winters in Northampton (I’ve experienced days when I marvel at the postcard-esque beauty of freshly falling snow, and then days when I ask myself why I’m walking through the Arctic tundra), Smith has become a comfortable space for me and being part of a community of amazing, intelligent students has inspired me to push myself and to strive for excellence. I think that a crucial part of college is figuring out who you are and realizing your own passions; my time at Smith has definitely allowed me to do both of these, as well as become more independent and grow as an individual along the way. Although I will be transferring to another college in the fall, I feel that finishing my undergraduate experience at another type of college environment could offer me new challenges and benefits. Finishing my second year at Smith has made me truly appreciate having spent the first two years of my undergraduate experience here. I really appreciate the fact that Smith is a place where politically charged dialogue is very active. Whereas I had rarely been concerned with political issues before, attending this college has made me realize how vital it is to be informed about social justice and race issues, as well as to understand how various power structures and form of privilege operate in society – since knowledge of these concepts allows for the opportunity for change. In high school, I had rarely given a thought to concepts such as feminism; Smith has taught me to become much more aware what it means to be a woman in this day and age, as well as to think much more critically about concepts that I had simply taken for granted before. I am very glad that I chose to attend a women’s college for these two years, since I truly believe that being a part of this community has helped me become more confident and assertive. What had been said in campus tours and information sessions finally resonates with me: Smith is a place of empowerment, where people are nurtured to feel capable and are encouraged to be ambitious. Regardless of the fact that I will not be at Smith for the remaining portion of my undergraduate experience, I will always cherish the time I have spent here and wear the badge of a Smith alumna with pride, carrying with me the skills and knowledge that I have gained – as well as the life-long friends and connections that I have made – wherever I go hereafter.