Grinnell College, class of 2014
Corina Varlan, Grinnell College, IA, class of 2014
Student highlight as featured in the Undergraduate Newsletter, Spring 2011 issue. Want to learn more about Grinnell College? Read the university highlight available here.
Hi! My name is Corina Varlan and I attended "Gheorghe Lazar" National College in Bucharest.
My journey to Grinnell College started in the 11th grade. As an aspirant to US education, I would frequently visit the FEAC and participate in their events. That was where I met Jon Edwards, Grinnell's Dean of International Admission, and I got the first glimpses of Grinnell life. His presentation convinced me that Grinnell could be a place for me: a vibrant community of academically ambitious students. Therefore, when it came to applying to US universities, Grinnell was among my first choices. In March, I got a phone call from Jon telling me that I had been accepted and gotten a scholarship covering my full need, which literally made me cry with joy. As you may know, last year was one of the worst times for applicants in financial need - awards were scarce and undersized. The problem, often, wasn't getting admitted – it was getting sufficient financial support. Grinnell was the only college that personally contacted me; I would get a call every couple of days either from Jon or a current student with whom I'd discuss. They sent me a postcard signed by current international students. I felt so wanted; I felt like that was where I would most feel at home. Even though I was reluctant at the thought of living in Iowa, far from a major city, I accepted their offer.
Now I know I chose right. Grinnell has been a marvelous experience for me. Besides taking classes in areas as diverse as Philosophy, Economics, Russian language and literature, Mathematics, Sociology, and Political Science, I feel like I have grown immensely on a personal level. My first semester I was part of the Model United Nations group and we went to an all-American conference in Chicago, which ended up being a really fun experience. I have also been an active member of the school's Films Committee – this month we hosted the college's first ever Animation Film Festival and we had two amazing filmmakers visiting campus. We are slowly building our first filmmaking group on campus as well. This semester, I have focused on doing service work, participating in a week-long disaster relief trip to Cedar Rapids and working for our College's "Liberal Arts in Prison" program, where I teach reading to inmates.
I have got a lot of insight into a concept you hear a lot at Grinnell: social justice. Right now I am also running to be the Vice President of the largest student group on campus – the International Student Organization. All my experiences have given me new perspectives on the world around me, and this is just the beginning!
I will not say that adapting to this new culture has not had its difficulties, but I have been able to overcome them with the support of my peers, the staff, and the faculty. I feel constantly inspired by my professors: they are incredible human beings who concentrate their whole attention on trying to give you the best education possible. They strive to really know who you are and get the best out of you. This summer, the College's Department of Russian is partially sponsoring a summer-long program during which I will be able to cover my whole second year of Russian. Next year, I have been selected to be a Peer Mentor in our Peer Connection program, helping first-year students navigate through their first months of college life. I want to be as inspiring to them as most people on campus are to me; they constantly amaze me with the strength of their passion and their efforts.
I still have not decided what I want to major in. I have one more year for that. I know that I will be studying abroad, probably in Buenos Aires or Cape Town. The feeling I often have when walking on campus is that I live in this special world of endless possibilities. Just as our school's slogan professes: "No limits."
My fulbright experience
Students at the advising center