My Semester Abroad at FGCU


Photo courtesy of Hervinder Kaur

Hervinder Kaur, Staff Writer

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and that is true.

My last fall semester abroad at FGCU was everything of a semester exchange but also the journey of a lifetime. Reflecting upon it now, I realized how everything unraveled to be a magical story. I forgot the name of the program that I was searching for and found the Global UGRAD program as Google’s “suggested searches.” After eight months of email exchanges, interviews, exams and waiting, I woke up to a placement email. Coming from Malaysia, a tropical country of year-long sunshine and rain, I was in disbelief that I wouldn’t be seeing snow in the U.S. However, things took a quick turn as I began searching more about Fort Myers, Florida and FGCU. Despite my attempt to know everything about FGCU, I stopped searching and started packing with the belief that it would be a fun adventure.

My first few weeks at FGCU were exciting ones along with Jeonguen, Daniel and Bergeline (from South Korea, Honduras and Haiti). Being placed in North Lake Village, I woke up to a sunrise over the lake for 120 days. It’s true that my window blinds only went down once for Hurricane Ian. About three days later, the real fun began with classes. For the first two weeks, I got lost every single day and would only find my way after receiving some navigational help. The silliest time getting lost was not knowing where the Cohen Student Union was from the Campus Bus Loop. By the end of the semester, I had been to every single building at FGCU and I’m so appreciative of the centralized design of the campus. There really is no way to get lost.

My experience at FGCU was a magical one. Everyone, everything and everywhere was so new to me. Thanks to the exciting activities held on the Library Lawn, I met countless new people and got myself quickly immersed in the FGCU culture. I knew this fun would last only for four months, therefore, why not make it count? One of my proudest moments was joining Eagle Media, where I learned so much about the editorial world and met compassionate counterparts all of who shared the same passion for writing as me. I celebrated my first “Diwali” away from home and my curious friends at FGCU always wanted to know more about it. I even got the inspiration to write my first-ever online article for Eagle News about Diwali. The response I received, certainly changed my life. FGCU is such a positive school. Everyone always radiates motivation to keep going. That’s what I loved the most about FGCU!

Despite the catastrophic hurricane, the way my friends and professors showered us with empathy both in Alico Arena and later in classes was an experience that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. My professors were always available whenever I struggled in any of their classes. They knew I was only there for a semester, but they also wanted me to have the best semester. I was certainly blown away by seeing how FGCU is a school built for the community with the endless volunteering options provided. I was happy to be a part of the Make A Difference service day. No words can describe the feeling of seeing a smile on the faces of those resilient people who lost everything in the hurricane. The hurricane did shape my experience in the U.S., but more than that were the kind souls I met.

Within four months, I created a strong bond with some friends at FGCU and it seemed as though we’d been friends for a decade. What’s crazy is they are mostly from the campus ministries (Impact and Chi Alpha), and I’m a practicing Sikh. I came to FGCU knowing that I’d come across new people, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have tears when saying goodbye to them. I’ll never forget the Christmas gathering I was a part of and the final farewell my Chi Alpha friends had for me. Although FGCU has a very small Asian community, I’m impressed by the way FGCU celebrates diversity, I really hope the FGCU Asian Student Organization (ASO) grows.

What impressed me the most is FGCU has done all of this in 25 years. I’m really looking forward to seeing where FGCU heads in the next decade. This school never let me feel like a stranger, so thank you to everyone who never let me open doors for four months, and to every shuttle driver who was keen to know about Malaysia! Thank you to the Bradshaw Library for housing me for the semester as well. I may never be able to describe the unfathomable number of new experiences, new ideas and new inspirations that I packed along with my luggage as I headed back home. I want to be constantly reminded that I was once a part of FGCU.

Finally, to every Eagle reading this, Wings up, Eagles!