My journey to Eastern has been both exciting and nerve wrecking. I’m a Filipino, born and raised with my identical twin, in the pearl of the Gulf, called the Kingdom of Bahrain. After graduating from Sacred Heart School, we had a year to prepare ourselves for the SAT testing, and decide where we wanted to pursue our academic goals. I should say it had been quite vague to figure out where I wanted to go, for a person who thought she knew want she wanted to do for a lifetime and help finance our family’s welfare.
It was actually both our father and our elder sister that had actually set our paths, for he had found the college ad in our local newspaper, where it was going to hold university and college booths; while my sister had convinced my family that my twin sister and I were better off in attending Eastern Illinois University where she had proudly graduated from in the United States, with full honors. As we rushed over to the venue to check out the unique campaigns, I still hadn’t figure out where I wanted to go and hoped we made the right decision.
There, we had found two colleges we wanted to attend, both Lake Land College and Eastern Illinois University. There we met both our future school’s International student advisors, and discussed with them our financial opportunities and scholarships. They had both explained to our family that both Lake Land and Eastern share a great transfer program that guaranteed us easy transfer of classes, and that Lake Land would help us save by a lot.
Being an identical twin and due to the lack of financial aid, my family and I had decided that we would apply to Lake Land college, thus save enough for my twin sister and me to attend Eastern, eventually. Glorious were the days when we both received our acceptance letters from Lake Land College! As we were both assured easy transitions to the university, my twin and I, along with out family, flew to Chicago-Illinois, also to realize what an alien world it was to step into a new environment.
The first two years were fun and memorable at college, but the feeling to attend a bigger campus, a bigger environment, and a bigger community: it felt like academic cupid struck us! As childish as it sounded, our feelings of entering Eastern were such a great experience. Having our family gone during our freshmen year at Lake Land, my twin and I felt like achieved adults as we both attended our transfer orientation and new International students orientation altogether.
We were amazed at how friendly the community was. Being foreigners to American students, faculty and staff on campus, we were thrilled yet felt bewildered. Luckily, with the knowledge we obtained from our sister and brother-in-law, who are both Eastern Alumni and dedicated faculty members to the school, my twin and I felt we were not alone in this new world, until an unfortunate event occurred.
During our junior year in Eastern, we had experienced a fire accident from an apartment we both lived off campus. My twin sister’s belongings were saved, but I had lost everything: my school supplies, my textbooks, my identification documents and other personal belongings as the fire started only devoured my bedroom. I thought no one would help us from that dreadful moment, but the community had proved us wrong.
I had anonymous offerings and donations from the campus, and the town community itself: we were given money, clothes and food to help us start afresh again. Additionally, the Vice president of Academic affairs had heard about my situation from my International director, and appealed to my wishes and received a letter noting I need not pay for the damages of my books. Granted, I am still in debt to them and the Office of International Students & Scholars.
There is a slogan that Eastern campaigns to their students; “Prestigious, personal and affordable.” Today, Eastern continues to honor that, to both American and International students. My twin and I noticed how much the faculty is persistent and willing to assist their students in academic and moral levels. There are also numerous departments that help students achieve their goals on campus. For instance, the Office Of International Students and Scholars are thorough to recruiting students to attend Eastern, and work hard to assist them whether it may be personal, financial, or scholastic related.
From that experience, my twin and continued to pursue in the field of business, and we decided to go into our separate yet desirable majors. From Lake Land to Eastern, my twin continued to pursue her bachelors’ in Finance with a minor in Spanish, while I actually switched to bachelors’ in Fine Arts with the option of Graphic Design, and a minor in Business Administration. Nearing to our graduation year and reflecting upon the moment where I thought I never knew what I wanted in life, we are glad to be part of EIU. Without their help in our time of need, we would not be able to succeed in our career goals. We proudly raise our heads high to campus and hail to thee, “We are EIU!”
Tiffany Joy C. Ignalaga, Senior – Graphic Design with a minor in Business Administration. Eastern Illinois University