Tips from an International Transfer Student: Navigating UMass

Hello! My name is Patricia Pasin, and I am an international transfer student. Before I begin this post, I want to remind you that you are great! I hope this post is going to be a helpful resource for you.

My country of origin is Venezuela, I was born and raised in a city called Barquisimeto. I moved to the United States in 2019 to pursue my Bachelor’s Degree. First, I pursued an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts at Bunker Hill Community College and then I transferred to UMass Amherst. A challenge that I experienced as a transfer student is the feeling of not belonging. I felt kind of isolated at the beginning of my semester because I was coming from another educational institution where I already felt like I belonged, and I did not know how to navigate UMass. Then, I realized that it is completely normal. It’s a matter of adaptation and giving yourself time.

Some other challenges I experienced as an International/transfer student were finding useful resources on campus and making new friends. But, I decided to find solutions. During my first semester, I was assigned to a Peer Advisor from the Sociology Department to help me with the transition. She was great! I asked the Peer Advisor everything. How to build up my resume, how to apply to internships and even which Dining Halls she suggested I should go to! Peer Advisors are a great resource available for any student. Also, I went to several remote IPO (International Programs Office) events and weekly advising hours.

My personal strategy to make new friends was to look for my community of Latinos/as. If I heard somebody speaking Spanish I randomly asked them where they were from. We exchanged contact information and started hanging out. My advice: Don’t be afraid to talk to somebody! (remind yourself that almost everyone on campus wants to make friends and make new connections). 

Other helpful resources are Academic Advisors and Clubs. Academic Advisors will advise you on what classes you should take and how many credits you should enroll in depending on your major/legal status/ financial situation. Clubs are useful as well to connect with others from your major or even develop artistic and leadership skills if you desire to. There are Clubs for everything! Also, I recommend you to surround yourself with your community, where you feel you belong. The feeling of belonging is important for your mental health. I encourage you to throw yourself out there. It does not matter if you seem like you don’t have any knowledge because that’s why we are here for you!

Asking around was the only action that made me succeed and be in the position I am today, as a Peer Advisor at the Social and Behavioral Sciences Pathways Center. If you have any questions and want to connect with me or my team go for it! We are here for you! Remember: If you do not throw yourself out there to accomplish your goals, who is going to do it for you?

My contact information:

By Patricia Pasin
Patricia Pasin