by Martin De Leon
Life as an international student at Georgetown can seem daunting prior to arriving on the Hilltop. However, Nick Walker (SFS ’16), a senior from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, recalls that adjusting to life at Georgetown required only a few minor tweaks to his lifestyle.
“I found it quite easy to integrate with the Georgetown community as everyone here was very welcoming and open minded. My only real obstacle was to adapt culturally to the US, and especially the East Coast. Since I came from Rio, I had a few habits that weren’t very compatible. For example, I remember finding it very strange that students had dinner at around 5.30pm and the cafeteria closed at 8 (which is the time I would think of going for dinner.) There was also the challenge of being on time, since in Rio everyone is late to everything.”
In regards to navigating the Hilltop, Walker has the following tip for all incoming international students: “Ask questions and use the resources at your disposal. Adapting to the new environment can be difficult, and there are lots of people here whose sole job is to help with that process of adjustment. It will take time, but be patient.”
Looking back, Walker wishes he had known the importance of attending office hours and regrets not having taken more advantage of Georgetown’s Jesuit education. “I’m in a class now with Father McManus and it is one of the best classes I have taken. With only one semester to go, I regret not taking more classes taught by Jesuits.”
Despite the challenges, Walker has found his place at Georgetown. Not only has Walker succeeded academically but has been able to contribute to the Georgetown community while benefitting from all that the Hilltop has to offer.
“Georgetown is a fascinating place to be an international student. There are many opportunities to explore other cultures and meet interesting and diverse individuals. I’ve been very lucky to attend some phenomenal talks on the Hilltop by a variety of illustrious dignitaries such as prime ministers, presidents, and other senior leaders.”
While breaking from the Georgetown bubble can be difficult for some Hoyas given the fast-pace of the Hilltop, its location grants students access to unique opportunities and experiences. For Walker, Washington, D.C. has had a major influence in shaping his interests and perspective.
“It is also very interesting to be at the heart of American politics. I don’t think I would have been this involved with the primaries had I not been in the nation’s capital and surrounded by some very passionate Georgetown students.”
Like many SFS students, Walker came to Georgetown planning to become a diplomat. Now a senior studying Culture and Politics and focusing on entrepreneurship in politics, Walker hopes to ultimately make an impact in his home city of Rio de Janeiro as a social entrepreneur.
“As a country I find that Brazil is very inefficient and riddled with problems that could be solved through intelligent social ventures. Luckily Georgetown has exposed me to some phenomenal social entrepreneurs and I hope to go back and either solve it through my own startup or through a venture capital firm.”
Whether Walker ends up in the United States or in Brazil, he is proud to say that Georgetown will always be home.
I love the feeling that Georgetown is a big family and how the community cares for each other. Over the past three years the Hilltop has truly become a home away from home for me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.