College culture shock

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_90a8242Transfers navigating Bethel University for the first time discuss their challenges and triumphs.

Lauren Clyne | Features Reporter
Close your eyes. Now imagine you are a sophomore transfer student pursuing a degree in Journalism. You’ve just dumped your piles of Target dorm supplies into North and said “hello” to your roommates. Currently, you are in route to Benson Great Hall for a mystery event. Once you arrive, you don’t know where to sit because your roommates are not transfer students and therefore do not need to attend Welcome Week events. It turns out to be one big campus scavenger hunt. What do you do next?
Jason Stormer, a transfer student from St. Thomas, turned around and went back to his dorm to watch Netflix and order Davanni’s. “I get the idea of it–to build teamwork and get to know everyone–but as a transfer student it was been there, done that when I was at St. Thomas and it wasn’t nearly as campy.”
An average of 100 transfers participate in Welcome Week alongside freshman each fall, according to Andrea Moore, Senior Transfer Admissions Counselor. Although Moore says transfer numbers vary widely, Bethel gets between 50 and 80 transfer students each spring. Jeff Flicker, junior in business with innovation and entrepreneurship, was one of those transfers last spring.
As a transfer student from St. John’s, Jeff Flicker went through college culture shock last January. “People feel a little cut-off here [Bethel University] and to themselves,” says Flicker. “At St. John’s everybody was really friendly with one another.” He credits developing friendships at Bethel University to his involvement on the hockey team.
Even little things that are the norm on Bethel’s campus such as parking or the dating culture can come as a shock to transfer students.  Jeff Flicker actually prefers Bethel parking over St. John’s. “I haven’t got a parking ticket here. At St. John’s or St. Ben’s I would get tickets all the time and they would be $25 per ticket too.” Flicker speaks to the romantic climate between M.I.A.C. schools. “[At Bethel University] it’s ring by spring. [At St. John’s] a lot of Johnnies marry a Bennie.” Flicker confesses, “It’s kinda weird having married couples in your classes, I’m not used to that.”
Both Stormer and Flicker agree the academic rigor and other educational opportunities like study abroad surpass the opportunities at the M.I.A.C. schools they previously attended. With regards to faith, Flicker states, “They really push you here [Bethel University] to grow in your faith. Over there [St. John’s], it’s like you can choose what you want to be. They don’t push it down your throat.” Stormer echoes this.
Although some students struggle with the transition into Bethel life, Moore urges that it’s something that is ranked highly in importance with transfer admissions.
“Transfers are a very important and valued part of our incoming classes, and we are continually trying to assess their experience transitioning to Bethel and making improvements where we can.” Moore continues, “The thought of changing schools can sometimes be a bit overwhelming and stressful for a student, so our goal is always to simplify the process where we’re able, and provide support for a smooth transition.”
Stormer looks back at his first events attended at Bethel as a transfer student and laughs at the difference in culture between Bethel and his prior university, St. Thomas.
“They had a beach day at Lake Johanna where of course everyone was playing Spike Ball because everyone here plays Spike Ball,” Stormer said. “And let me tell ya, not a single St. Thomas student has ever played Spike Ball before and the only way they Spike Ball is if they were hammered. That would be the only way it would happen.”
Either way you look at it, one thing is certain. Even within the M.I.A.C., transferring schools comes with its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages. Cultural differences at Bethel University may trip transfers up, but the academic and faith aspects of may compensate for these obstacles.

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