Why the US? – Rachel Tan (University of Kansas ’19)


“Congratulations! You have received a University of Kansas KU-IIE Undergraduate scholarship… The scholarship provides a full tuition waiver awarded by KU and will continue for four years.” 

When I received that email four years ago, I could clearly visualize the next three years of my life. I would accept the scholarship offer. I would board a plane and move to the other side of the world into a four-bedroom apartment with three complete strangers. I would transfer to the University of Kansas (KU), and I would graduate from the university with a bachelor’s degree in three years. I felt ready, but in hindsight, nothing could have prepared me for the experiences in store for me.

I did graduate with an Honors degree in Political Science and Global & International Studies, but not before taking KU up on every opportunity it had to offer.

Facilitating KU’s six-week summer orientation program for 4,000 incoming students.

Completing a summer internship in China.

Going on a semester abroad in Denmark.

Writing not one, but two undergraduate theses on Malaysian politics under the supervision of two knowledgeable and dedicated professors.

And, after graduation, receiving a funded postgraduate offer from one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

These experiences are beyond anything 18-year-old me could have hoped for, as I reveled in the joy of receiving that fateful email four years ago.

Although my time in the US was not always smooth sailing, I persevered with the support of my friends, family, professors, and one very helpful International Student Services Director. And in the end, my undergraduate experience turned out to be the most enthralling, educational, and fulfilling years of my life. I am forever changed by my time as an international student in the US, and I hope by volunteering with USAPPS, I can help make the experience a reality for someone else too.