Things I Missed About ISU While Studying Abroad

by Emily Forsyth

The sense of community at ISU. It’s hard to put this concept into words, but there is something special about the campus community here at Iowa State. Once you become a Cyclone, a special bond is formed with generations past and present. I come from a long line of Cyclones. Even though many years separate us, I can still reminisce about late nights at the Parks Library with my grandparents. My parents and I talk about how the Memorial Union has changed over the years but it still smells the same. I never expected to find such a special community at Iowa State. For goodness sakes, there are 36,000 some people who go here. But strangers still smile at one another on the sidewalks. Just last week, I waited with a group of other students at a bus stop in the rain and we shared joy and disappointment as the bus drove right past us.

School sponsored athletics. Piggybacking off the sense of community at Iowa State, there is nothing like being in the student section at Jack Trice or Hilton. Win or lose, the college athletic atmosphere is unrivaled here. I am a Cyclone sports fanatic and athletic events are some of my fondest memories at Iowa State. Like the time when we upset number one ranked Oklahoma and court stormed. I’ll never forget that. The university I attended in New Zealand partnered with a semi-pro rugby team, but they only played one game while I was there.

Knowing the campus norms. One of the things that threw me off the most about going to school at a new university was how much I took mundane tasks for granted. It was almost like being a freshman all over again. I got lost going to the majority of classes, I couldn’t figure out how to print the lecture slides I needed, they don’t have a 23 Orange bus, and there was a bar in the middle of campus…what?! It took me quite a while to get oriented. It definitely made me aware of how much I had learned about ISU – and the great things our university has that I took for granted.

Knowing who to ask when I have questions. I have been blessed in my experience at ISU with great advisors, helpful professors, and finding staff members who can point me in the right direction if they can’t answer my questions. While I was abroad, I talked to other students who said they didn’t even know who their advisor was. Because I was at a smaller university abroad, they did not offer the same types of student services we are fortunate enough to have here. I encourage you to reach out and ask somebody if you have a problem or a question about anything at ISU. Odds are you will find a helping hand.

Homework/extra credit points. Don’t get me wrong – I am not advocating for more homework here. But in my courses abroad, the only assignments that were graded were lab reports, papers, and exams. In one of my classes, we were only assessed on the midterm and the final exams. Yikes! I have a new appreciation for the homework assignments, not only for the points but for the practice. Keeping up on homework forces me to go over the content periodically – instead of trying to remember a semesters worth of knowledge in a week before the test.

Traditions. Walking around the Zodiac to avoid failing your next test*. Becoming a true Iowa State student by kissing under the campanile. Falling in love by walking around Lake Laverne. Whether these traditions are true or not, they add a unique character to the popular places on campus. *Fun fact: When I was in elementary I walked across the Zodiac and I vividly remember my mom joking/scolding me and saying I would fail my first test if I came to Iowa State. I failed my first test at Iowa State. Coincidence? I think not…

This is just a brief list. I don’t want to make it sound like I didn’t enjoy studying abroad because that is the farthest thing from the truth. Studying at another university opened my world view, challenged me to be a better student, and go outside of my comfort zone. But, the bottom line is that Iowa State is a great place to be and I am happy to be a Cyclone.


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