Honors students on the road

As a step in our transition to university life, a group of us Arizona Western College Honors students took a trip to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and Arizona State University in Phoenix on Nov. 17. Besides learning a lot, we had a great time together.


A day in Flagstaff

After a five-hour drive to Flagstaff, we arrived around 11 a.m. It was about 45 degrees, and everyone was shaking in three layers of cloths under some sprinkling rain. The view of the pine forest in the sun was spectacular, though, and there was a small-town feeling with the shopping mall right next to campus.

When we entered our first NAU building, we felt a bit lost among all the glass doors and the long, narrow walkways. In a big auditorium, an admissions rep told us about student life in such a beautiful city and about the programs the university has to offer.

 Later, when I walked into the cafeteria for lunch, and had my first experience of how crowded a university can be. The space was three times as big as the AWC Eatery, and we struggled to find a seat.

After lunch, we spread apart depending on academic areas to see different parts of campus. I went with the Communication group for a presentation on professional opportunities with an NAU bachelor’s degree.

The next presentation was about the NAU Honors Program of NAU, which, like AWC’s, offers may benefits –such as scholarships, smaller classes, dedicated faculty, more hand-on experiences. Of course, honors classes require more in-depth research as well as extra assignments. Students also pay an extra fee, but overall they grow a lot academically.

The final presentation was about how to pay for university, including financial aid options.

After NAU, we left for dinner at a Chinese restaurant; then we went to downtown Flagstaff for three hours on our own. It was a great experience for me since I have never been to Flagstaff before.

The city has a mixture of antique and modern architecture. The special thing about this city is its narrow alleys with small shops. In my home country, Vietnam, we have similar alleys with little food stands and small coffee shops.

The city with LED lights all around under a starry night – it all felt so familiar. The only unfamiliar thing was the freezing breezes; I couldn’t feel my fingers under a still dropping 35 degrees.


Down the mountain

When we left our motel around eight the next morning, it was bone-shaking cold. For three hours, the bus descended down the mountain toward Phoenix, and when I stepped off the bus at ASU, I felt the warmth of home. Could it be a sign?

I fell in love with the red-orange buildings, the modern look of the interior, the green feeling around campus, and the enormous space of this school. I knew this was the school for me.

We again went to an auditorium to hear about the transfer process and financial aid, and about Barrett, the Honors College of ASU. Barrett is similar to the Honors Program at NAU, only more expensive.

I wanted to use lunchtime to explore the college. Tuan Nguyen, a Vietnamese alumnus from AWC, was my tour guild. He showed me around campus, took me to buildings I wanted to see, and introduced me to his campus with great passion and pride. I know I will feel the same once I went there.

Unfortunately, it was a Saturday, so everything was closed. I could only see things from the outside, but I can’t wait to experience for myself what it’s like inside those buildings, especially the Stauffer B Film Studios and editing room.

As we headed back along the interstate, we reflected on our informative and stimulating trip. It had showed us the feeling of being a university student, of walking ten minutes or more between classes, of struggling to find a table in an enormous dining place.

This trip prepared us for the transfer process and helped us clear up any confusion about the two universities. Most of all, it helped us decide on our institution for our Bachelor’s years. What a precious experience.

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