“Le Moyne is an amazing school and I’ve truly never enjoyed myself like I have here in the last year and a half.” – Ashleigh Manktelow, BSc Biology student at Le Moyne, originally from the UK
Located in Syracuse, New York, Le Moyne College is proud to be “just a little younger, cooler and better looking than most of the other Jesuit colleges”.
Like the other 27 Jesuit Colleges and universities scattered throughout the States, Le Moyne pledges to make the distinctly Jesuit values of educating mind, body and soul an integral part of its community and culture, encouraging an engaging, fair and inclusive learning hub of top-notch educators – as well as top-notch students!
From astronauts, to politicians, professional athletes, actors, federal court judges and beyond; it seems Le Moyne’s lasting tradition lies in its ability to produce graduates who inspire positive change. As a result, the institution continues to enrol students from all countries, ethnicities and walks of life – but what is it really like to be an international student in the Le Moyne College community?
We asked Ashleigh Manktelow – an international student of Biology at Le Moyne, originally from Devon in the UK’s Southwest – to fill us in on student life…
When you decided you wanted to study abroad, what was your thought process when it came to choosing which global region you wanted to visit and why?
I wanted to come to Syracuse, NY, because my family had moved to Old Forge, NY (about two hours away) four years prior to me coming over to study in America. I’d been to Syracuse several times before when visiting my family, and it is a beautiful city with plenty to do. I also absolutely love the snow and the hot summers, as well as what each season has to offer in regards to sports and leisure.
It was ultimately a decision between continuing my studies in England or America. I think I decided to choose America because I wanted the chance to experience a different culture and different way of life. For me, America had a lot more to offer because it was a chance to explore a new part of the world. In addition, my family is over here and I really wanted to be with them and to try these new experiences with them.
According to the Washington Post, there are more than 5,000 colleges in the US. Taking this into consideration, what made you settle on studying at Le Moyne?
My stepfather is American and a Le Moyne Alumnus. When I was looking at colleges that I wanted to apply to, I wanted to stay in New York. My stepfather suggested that I go and check out Le Moyne. I knew the moment I came here that this was the best place for me to be. I felt like I could really call it home. The campus is small, which was something that was really important to me. It’s also absolutely beautiful.
The science programs at Le Moyne are excellent, and when I looked around the science buildings, I was really impressed with what I saw – plenty of labs full of resources and small student- to- faculty ratios. The lady who interviewed me was so nice and welcoming and really represented how caring and great Le Moyne is as a small community. After I left, I really couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else.
How is school in the US different to the UK?
It couldn’t be more different! For starters, a US degree takes four years to complete, whereas it’s three years in the UK. This is actually not a bad thing, because I get the chance to take classes outside of my major (such as philosophy, religion, theology, etc), whereas the classes in the UK are pretty much completely related to your degree. The academic programs here are a lot more flexible. I changed my major from Biochemistry to Biology after deciding that I wanted to go to medical school, and it was really easy to do; I’m not behind as a result of that change. Changing your academic program of study in the UK is a lot more difficult. You also have to know what you want to do before attending university, which can be problematic if you don’t know what you want to do for sure.
School spirit is a big thing over here too, whereas it isn’t that emphasized in the UK. I really like that a lot of the students are proud of the school they attend and get involved with social and sporting events across campus – it makes you feel like you’re part of a big family.
How have you found your experience so far, academically, socially, and personally? Have you received adequate support? How about when you’re feeling homesick – how do the staff and your fellow peers help you feel at ease?
My dad fell seriously ill during the first semester of my freshman year. He lives back in the UK, so trying to adapt to living in a new country and taking 18 credits whilst worrying about my father made it a lot more difficult to settle in… and I was very homesick. But I found that the friends I made here provided an amazing support system and have made it nothing less than incredibly easy to settle into an entirely different culture. My professors were incredibly understanding and most of them went out of their way to ask me how I was doing and gave me extra time on assignments if needed.
I honestly never thought I would have experienced that level of support anywhere. I’m thriving academically, and I honestly look forward to going to class every single day. Personally, I found it a lot more difficult than I had anticipated, simply because everything is so different. But everything I have experienced so far has definitely shown that I made the right decision.
Where do you see yourself in five-years’ time and how do you think Le Moyne will help you achieve this goal? Have staff been helpful in terms of your future aspirations?
Hopefully, in five years’ time I will be in medical school. Because Le Moyne is small and the staff really care about your goals, I think that will help tremendously in the process of preparing me to apply for and attend medical school. The HPAC committee here is great – they personally see every student through the entire process and provide practice interviews to improve your skills. Beth Pritts (the Dr. in charge) is so easy to get in contact with and so incredibly helpful!
There are also many opportunities available to get involved with off-campus medical jobs, volunteering, and internships. I get emails every week from the career services office letting me know about summer internships and how to apply. Both of my advisors are constantly helping me plan my future courses to best prepare for the MCAT and medical school, and my international advisor has helped me along with all of the immigration aspects of continuing my education after undergrad.
What has been your most unforgettable experience so far?
Definitely Dolphy Day! It’s a tradition to miss class for the day and enjoy campus events that are hosted by the ‘wizard’ (a senior who decides what happens that day). I loved the school spirit that everybody shows that day and it is great to see so many people enjoying themselves. It really felt amazing being connected to all the students who were taking time off from their hard work to relax. I loved the school spirit shown that day and had a ton of fun, too!
What’s your favourite thing about studying in the US?
It has to be the culture! I love how friendly everybody is over here – both students and professors – and how much everybody cares about their education, their peers, and the passion and pride they show for their school. It really is a learning experience in itself.
What advice would you offer a fellow international student considering studying at Le Moyne?
I would say go for it! It’s never easy but it’s so worth it to be able to experience something totally different from what you’re used to. Le Moyne is an amazing school and I’ve truly never enjoyed myself like I have here in the last year and a half.
There are so many opportunities, and the professors and students provide such a great support system. I always have fun here because there is always something to do. Lectures are really enjoyable and very personal due to small class sizes. You get to form a good relationship with all of your professors and getting help is easy.
This would be my biggest piece of advice to anybody looking to study abroad – make sure you have that support system there.