Name: Amun C.
University & Graduation Year: Middlebury College, 2023
High School: Dubai College/United World College – Atlantic College
Major/Program: Double Major in Anthropology and Political Science

1. As a first-year student, what was the biggest surprise about college life? Were there any specific challenges you faced or adjustments you had to make?

For me, coming from a family in which I heard a lot about the US college experience – I felt like I knew what to expect. However, after spending two years at UWC Atlantic College and growing up in multicultural Dubai, I was surprised by the homogenous nature of the Middlebury population. That was a large struggle because it meant I had a lot more explaining to do, including who I was, where I came from, and why I was in Vermont. However, this also helped me remain very clear in answering all those questions. I knew exactly who I was and where I came from – and to what extent I wanted to explain that to each person I met.

2. What makes your college special? What is your favorite thing about it?

Like with any other institution, I have my criticism for Middlebury. But it’s the people and the community that make the place. I had no reason to end up in Vermont, but it is now a place I will always call home. It’s beautiful and different to anything I’ve ever seen before but it is the people that make it mine. Once you find those people, you begin to find all the special things that you will brag about. The lakes, the mountains, the ice cream and maple creemees, my favorite professors and the insane dance troupes of course – they all matter to me because I eventually found a place for myself in all of them.

3. Are there any misconceptions out there about your college? What would you like to share with students who might be considering applying?

I think students fear being outside of big cities or losing out on certain new experiences that come with age. If there’s one thing I’m grateful for, it’s being cradled within a community and a small town before having to throw myself into the big scary world. I think students should remember the value in relationships and community, and how long those will last and shape you.

4. Are you involved in any clubs, teams, or other extracurricular activities? If so, tell us how this has shaped your college experience.

I am a part of the RIDDIM world dance troupe, the only student-run, audition-only dance group on campus. This club has shaped my time at Middlebury. Not only has the troupe provided me with what I feel is essential, a place to be creative and disciplined within dance while at college, but it has also given me a very tight knit community that consists of students from across the campus – in terms of all demographics. I got to meet a lot more people and feel like I was part of something early on.

Middlebury also provides the opportunity to study abroad, so I spent my second semester of junior year at Oxford University. I definitely recommend taking advantage of such opportunities!

5. If you could give your high school self any advice about college admissions, what would you say? Having been through the college admissions process, what is the biggest lesson you learned?

It doesn’t matter where you go. There is no perfect school for a certain personality type. It is up to you to decide and shape what your experience is going to look like. You decide where to put your energy and make the most of situations you find yourself in. If COVID-19 has taught college students anything, it’s that nothing is certain. If anything, the college experience is all about figuring out who you are, what you actually care about and how capable you are to adapt and, consequently, to thrive.

6. How has COVID altered your college experience? Do you have any specific advice about attending college in the post-pandemic world?

Immensely. I arrived at Middlebury five weeks before COVID broke out. I can definitely say that my peers and I very much felt that our college experiences were stolen from us . And in many ways it was. Despite the fact that I attended all my college years in-person, which is in itself a rarity, people still suffered mentally and socially. Nevertheless this gave a level of perspective that freshmen often don’t start off with. It matured us and bonded us with each other. It made us vulnerable. People became far more comfortable asking someone to hang out, getting lunch with a random person, opening themselves up to new relationships when the world looked scary. That is the biggest lesson – to take initiative and see the value in your time in college.