We already had the first snowfall...

Hey everyone! For the ones who don't know me, I'm Gabriella Nothaft, part of the class of 2018. I am currently studying Mathematics at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. I always knew I wanted to go the US for college, and the University of Minnesota has several aspects that fit into what I wanted. First, it has a really strong Mathematics program. It also is in a large city, which allows me to not depend solely in what exists inside the university. I did not come here to visit, but really liked the pictures and testimonies of previous students.

I was a bit uneasy at first to move here, considering it's really far away from Rio and from everyone and everything I knew, but it was one of the best choices I made. The three campuses (East and West Bank in Minneapolis and Saint Paul campus) are incredible, and everyone is really nice.

My story here at the university began with the Global Gopher Events, which was a week full of events that focused on international students and our transition into a new country and a new school. In the middle of it, I had my orientation, where most of my very close friends, 2 of which are Brazilian. Since everyone was new and came from very different places, making friends was only a little bit hard, not as much as I expected at first.

After all of this, I finally moved into my dorm. I had a single, not having to share the room and the sink with anyone else, and the first night I stayed there was really hard. It finally hit me that I was in college. I would not be going back to OLM in a few days, I would not be going back to the same people I spent 14 years of my life with. I thought I could never survive it, but here, only two short months later, I know I can make it. The room itself is really good, but a bit small. My floormates are really nice people. The only problem is the food.

I was a bit uneasy at first to move here, considering it's really far away from Rio and from everyone and everything I knew, but it was one of the best choices I made.

The three campuses (East and West Bank in Minneapolis and Saint Paul campus) are incredible, and everyone is really nice.

I was placed in Comstock Hall, which is the dorm with the best location, being the closest to all of my classes. This means that I can wake up later than normal for them. However, Comstock has the worst dining hall on campus. We have very few healthy choices, and generally when I eat there, I end up having pizza and fries. The pizza and fries are really good, but it gets tiring to eat only that. Recently I've been walking almost a mile away from my classes to go to another dining hall with better food options, and that is generally what everyone does. The food in all dining halls are okay, only the options that normally change. Now I can really say that all of you should enjoy OLM's cafeteria, because you're gonna miss it when you graduate.

I love my classes. Well, at least most of them. Due to my AP Calculus score, I am now taking Calculus 2, which is much less competitive between freshmen. Since my orientation was only in the end of August, many classes were already full or had only really early or late sessions available, but taking Calc 2 allowed me to have more flexible schedule. My earliest class is at 8, my latest ends at 5:30, and both mondays and fridays I have the morning off.

All of the sessions here are divided into lectures, where everyone sits together in the same room, and discussions, where we are divided into smaller groups and we are able to work on problems and talk about the subjects in lecture. Besides calculus and physics, I am currently taking History and Microeconomics, to fulfill the liberal arts requirements. All of the professors are really fun and very enthusiastic, however we have more interaction with the TAs, which are all graduate students here at the U. The classes require a lot of effort, but so far I'm managing.

The first set of midterms have all passed already, and for the ones that I already got the score back, I did really well. The key is organization and not leaving things for the last minute. I struggled a bit with that when I had 2 midterms and 1 essay due in a span of two days. I slept very little on those days, but when this happened again 3 weeks later, I was more prepared. I am now entering another big midterm phase, with 2 quizzes and 2 midterms less than a week apart.

As those who know me already know, I am always involved with something, and here it's no different. I'm part of BRASA, the brazilian student association, a dance group, a group that connects Americans to international students, and the equestrian club. I have events and meetings almost every day, including Saturdays and Sundays. Being busy and being surrounded by people with similar interests as mine has helped a lot with homesickness.

And now going on to the hardest part: the weather. Everyday when I wake up and I see the weather forecast I ask myself why did I choose to live in such a cold place. Today is a warm day, and it's only 7° outside. Sometimes I go out with two jackets on and I see people wearing shorts, which makes me feel really weird. This was the first thing I learned about the weather: you cannot base what you're wearing in what you see other people wearing. For the entirety of October, I feel like there was only 5 days where the temperatures remained steadily above 12°. Considering that I lived in Rio my entire life, it is quite a big shock. The cold is really hard, and having the courage to get out of bed for class is really hard, especially when it's still dark outside (I went outside this morning at 7:40 and the sun was still not up).

We already had the first snowfall on October 15th. Normally it only comes in the middle of November, so no one was expecting it. I was out in the barn, and I guarantee that having to walk across a slippery field to go get some horses while it's snowing and you're only wearing a sweatshirt is not fun.  The snow was really pretty, and for about 2 hours, it created a beautiful white layer on the trees and floor, but quickly melted. Since then, it snowed one other day, but for about one hour.

At this point last year, I had no clue that I would be here. I was back at OLM, my second house, surrounded by everyone I already knew for years. I was stressed about writing my thesis, about Mr. Rucker’s essays, Ms. Freire’s tests, and applications. I followed the same routine I had for years, and had no idea how my life would change in this short year.  I was terrified that I would not have friends, but here I am, with friends from class, from orientation, from physics labs. I have met incredible people from around the entire planet. I am absolutely sure that I would not have managed everything so far if it wasn't for all of the friends I made and all of the people back home that I know are there for me.

I found myself in the University of Minnesota, even if under many layers of coats, and I am sure I could not be happier in any other place.

Gabriella Nothaft (‘18)