PSS Winter '13


From Near and Far

by Melissa Sue Sorrells Galley ’05

When Haylee Moyser ’14 first stepped foot on the Hobart and William Smith Colleges campus, you could say she was a little jetlagged. After traveling for nearly 26 hours, she arrived in Upstate New York, technically, on the same day that she left Perth, Australia. “I gained a day,” says the transfer student with a laugh. “But I lose it again when I go back home at the end of the semester.”

Moyser, who transferred to Hobart and William Smith from Curtin University in Australia, has the distinct honor of traveling the most cumulative miles (about 11,400 as the crow flies) to join the Hobart and William Smith community this fall.

Joining her in the annals of students from far flung places, San-Fan Hong ’16 had what she calls a “nightmare 16-hour flight” from Taipei City, Taiwan, traveling about 7,600 miles to be on campus for Orientation.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are no less than 11 current first-year students who call Geneva, N.Y., their home and traveled, between all of them, less than 25 miles to campus. Despite their relatively brief journeys, these “locals,” like Geneva Scholarship Associates recipient Michael DeRosa ’16, have their own stories to tell.

“I didn’t want to stay close to home, but every time I visited another college, I compared it to Hobart and William Smith. Nothing could top it,” says DeRosa. Drawn to the Colleges’ strong leadership development program and commitment to community engagement, DeRosa ultimately couldn’t see himself anywhere else. “I finally figured it out that HWS was where I was meant to be.

“I’m just like San-Fan and Haylee in that respect,” he says. “I do my own laundry here on campus. I decided not to bring my car. I’ve only seen my parents twice since classes started. I’m just like any other first-year student.”

And like every other new student, all three are finding their way around their new home. For Hong, who attended Sandy Springs Friends School in Maryland for two years, the transition has, so far, been mostly smooth. “I love it here,” she says. “The campus is beautiful, and my classes are great. In just the first couple of weeks, I’ve already attended lots of different club events, and I played the piano in the President’s House.”

Moyser, who initially came to HWS in spring 2012 as an exchange student, wasn’t as immediately sure that HWS was the right fit. “I struggled for a couple of weeks. Everyone kept telling me to stick it out because I’d have lots of ups and downs. But once I went ’up,’ so to speak, I never came back down,” she says. “All of the sudden, I just knew that this is where I am meant to be.

“Still, I’ve struggled with a language barrier that I had no idea I was even going to come up against,” says Moyser, who loves what she calls ’tomato sauce’ on her fries (we’d call it ketchup). “English is English, I thought. But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it’s given me a new outlook on my coursework in rhetoric and language.”

“I am struggling with my own personal culture shock. I mean, I wore a uniform every school day for years and years. What am I going to wear to class,” jokes DeRosa, who attended DeSales High School in Geneva. “Honestly, I am still finding my way around. Even though I grew up just down the street, I don’t know where everything is. Every day it’s something new that I didn’t even know I didn’t know.”

For all three of these new members of the HWS family, the Hobart and William Smith liberal arts experience was what drew them to this lakeside campus. “In Taiwan, you have to work really hard to get into college, but once you get in, it’s not as demanding,” says Hong. “Here in America, you work a lot harder. The classes are more difficult and your professors expect more from you.”

Those academic rigors also took Moyser by surprise. “During my exchange semester, I only took three courses, and I thought I was going to breeze through it, but the expectations are much higher here,” says Moyser. “Fortunately, HWS professors are amazing. They’re so accessible and willing to work with me when I’m struggling. In Australia, it’s so hard to connect with faculty members outside of class.”

DeRosa, too, is learning about American college classes for the first time. “The workload took me by surprise,” he says. “But I love that my classes are discussions instead of lectures. I’m also noticing that all of my classes are interconnected. I’m studying the same themes and ideas in philosophy and economics. It’s fascinating and kind of exciting.”


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