Knight In The Life: Unique backgrounds bring international students to Geneseo

Geneseo is a beautiful place to study, learn and grow, although the remote location is unknown to many in New York, let alone in other countries.

These circumstances bring this question to mind: How do international and exchange students come to find themselves studying in rural Geneseo, N.Y.?

Junior Jaemoon Shim, a communication major from South Korea, said that he chose Geneseo because his high school and Geneseo are sister schools. His teacher and principal highly recommended Geneseo, but at the time he couldn’t even find the exact location of Rochester, N.Y. on a map. He said that all he knew of Geneseo was its reputation as a “public ivy.” Shim said he went to Geneseo because he wanted to challenge himself with a new experience.

Senior Carolina Tenorio-Llanos, an international relations major from Ecuador, went to SUNY College at Old Westbury during her freshman year before choosing to transfer to Geneseo. She said she applied because she saw Geneseo as a top SUNY school.

Tenorio-Llanos said, “When I got accepted I decided to attend over other schools because of [Geneseo’s] strong academic credentials, lower student-faculty ratio and tighter community atmosphere.”

Brazilian business major, senior Karen Schvartzman, said she was looking for a school close to Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. where her boyfriend was pursuing his Ph.D., but her budget was very modest.

According to Schvartzman, after researching school rankings in the area, she found that Geneseo was one of the best public schools in the Northeast and that tuition was more affordable than private schools. She said she did not expect Geneseo to be so rural and transportation so limited. Nevertheless, Schvartzman said, “The education here is state of the art … I am very happy I decided to come here.”

In an email interview, Nick Akkerman, a fall 2010 exchange student from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, said he chose Geneseo because studying abroad is a mandatory part of his bachelor’s program in international business and management. Many students from his university wanted to study in the United States, but there was a limited number of slots for a large group of applicants, so he said that he worked hard on his motivational letter and heavily researched Geneseo. Akkerman said he chose Geneseo because it was somewhat close to large American cities. “Me and eight others from the University of Groningen came to Geneseo for fall semester 2010. To say the least, we had an absolute blast!” he said.

Juan Mairena, a junior computer science engineering student from Nicaragua, works for the nonprofit, the Enlace Project. He is the trip coordinator for the organization and came to Geneseo to learn more about the study abroad and service learning programs, to promote the study abroad and service learning trips to El Sauce, Nicaragua and to learn more about the educational system as well as U.S. culture. The Enlace Project started five years ago with Geneseo alumnus Kellan Morgan ‘06 who went to Nicaragua for an economics degree. In a phone interview Mairena said he goes to some classes not for credit, but to observe and listen.

Sophomore Luciano Scala, a political science and international relations double major, is originally from Naples, Italy but currently resides in France while not at school in Geneseo. He said he found Geneseo through research on the Internet.