I came to Rochester, NY in January 2021 in the middle of the pandemic and winter season. Although, I was somehow prepared for the cold and the snow, experiencing it was totally different. Nevertheless, I was so excited to start my new academic journey, that neither the weather nor the pandemic could affect it. Soon, I started my classes and I had the chance to attend one of them in person.
From the beginning, I understood that the educational system was totally different from what I was used to. Although I had made my research, experiencing firsthand was totally different. I also realized since the beginning that the Data Science program at the University of Rochester was one of the best in the US /World and that made it also very challenging. The competition was huge and I was the only one to take 4 classes and also the only one to plan to graduate in 1 year. I had classes and assignments or projects almost every day and that is when I started to appreciate the US educational system. Today I was able to finish my first semester successfully and I can say that I have learned in a few months more than I could ever imagine. Being experienced with the educational system in Albania, I could say that this form of distributing the class load in all the periods of the semester rather than having only one final exam is far more effective. Another major difference is the alternation with the projects and research that is missing in our universities during undergraduate or graduate studies. This approach has another major social advantage as students have to work together most of the time.
When I came to Rochester in January, I did not know anyone in the entire city and I believe I was the only Albanian in the university, but today I have a lot of friends from different parts of the world. I have had the chance to know different cultures and to make exciting experiences like playing cricket or cooking Indian food. I am eager to continue my journey and to make the most of this wonderful time of my life. I am attaching a photo of me and my friends playing cricket in the university’s sports center to also show that even in the most challenging times, we have to try to make the most of it.
Ledion Lico , MIP fellow currently pursuing an MS in Data Science, University of Rochester