The other day, I had the chance to sit down with Dianne and ask her some questions about her experience at Calvin.
Q: Please give a brief introduction of yourself.
A: My name is Dianne Cayetano, and I’m from the beautiful country of the Philippines. When I was 7, I moved to Beijing, and that’s where I went to school until I came here. I have a mom and a brother and a father.
Q: How has your general experience at Calvin been so far?
A: General experience… Honestly, the first few days were probably the worst days of my life. Even though they say that orientation is the best time of your life, I thought it was the worst because I felt like a minority within the minority group. There was nobody who was from the Philippines. There were a lot of people from different countries, and that was something that they bonded over. But I thought it was kind of hard to find those people who I could identify with a bit more. I couldn’t really find that in the first few days. So that was really hard. Later on, God was really faithful in providing people my way, and as I got to know more people, professors and got to know the place a bit more, it was a lot better. I feel like I’m at a good place now, or a better place than I was before.
Q: What are some faith-themed opportunities here at Calvin?
A: At Calvin, they don’t require you to go to the chapels. But those are really good if you just need time with God in between your classes every day at 10 o’clock. On Sundays there is a worship service called LOFT, and that’s a must-go, because Pastor Mary is amazing. There are also Bible studies, and there are a lot of churches around Grand Rapids, so if you’re in a certain church, you can join its Bible studies as well. Usually there are Calvin people there, so you can join a small group with people you know.
Q: What is something you wish sophomores, juniors and seniors would have told you before coming to Calvin, that you didn’t know about or you felt unprepared?
A: I didn’t know that academics are much more serious in this college compared to other colleges. I wish I knew that, because coming to Calvin, I didn’t think that it was going to be this demanding, but actually it is.
Q: As an international student, what were some things that gave you culture shock?
A: This is not really culture shock, but before coming to Calvin, I had never head the phrase “No, you’re good.” Literally everyone says, “No, you’re good,” and it’s kind of funny. So when I told my roommate that, she tried really hard not to say it, but she couldn’t. Culture shock … Like not calling older people by their last name, like Mr. Something or Ms. Something because I feel like in America they are more comfortable if you call them—adults—by their first name. I had to adjust to that, because I’m not used to calling older people by their first name, and I want to be respectful but also I realize that in their culture it’s more respectful if you call them by their first name instead of saying Mr. or Ms.
Q: What is one thing you love about Calvin, and what is one thing you would change about Calvin?
A: One thing I love about Calvin is that the professors are all Christ-followers, because it really makes a difference when you know that your professor cares about you and the professor cares about how you’re doing. You just want to do better in that class because you don’t want to let your professor down. I remember the first day that my psychology professor called me by my name, and I thought that was so great. I love that the professors want to know about us and care about how we’re doing in class.
What I would really change in Calvin is that the food gets wasted a lot in the dining halls. I work at Commons and I see how much people waste their food, and coming from a country where we didn’t live in abundance of food and stuff like that—there was a lack of food where I came from—so it’s really hard to see this knowing that there are a lot of people in the world who are not eating. I get really sad about that.
Q: How has your dorm experience been so far?
A: I am really really thankful that the girls on my floor are really great. I go to my neighbor’s room a lot at 12 a.m. and just like talk to them and stuff like that. I also live next to a sophomore, and she invites me to a lot of things. She was really intentional about getting to know me and helping me with the transition. As an international student, sometimes you may feel like there’s a separation between you and the Americans here just because of the culture and what they’re used to and stuff. I never felt like the girls on my floor literally because I’m shorter than them, but also because of the color of my skin or the color of my hair. I think they celebrated the fact that we were different, and were excited to know about the culture that I was in.
Q: Which do you prefer, Knollcrest or Commons?
A: I work in Commons, so I’d have to say Commons, but I heard Knollcrest food was better.
Today's song, enjoy :)