Posted October 28, 2016 by
Tags: The Liberal Arts Student Activities My Wheaton
My Wheaton Experience as the First-Ever Undergraduate Student from Estonia
My decision to come to the United States for the first time as a 19-year-old was prompted by my dream as a 6-year-old kid. My dad told me that I was six when I first declared that I would one day move to America. When asked if I knew where or what it was, I simply shouted: “No, but I’m going!”
I found Wheaton College when Google-searching colleges in the U.S., and I was surprised as I read about Christian colleges for the first time in my life. In Estonia, where I was born and raised, we have 1.3 million people, out of which less than 2 percent are Christian. This reality doesn’t generate many Christian educational institutions. It became clear to me that a Christian higher-education was everything I didn’t know I was looking for. I knew Wheaton was the place for me because the vision and the mission of the school catered to my ambitions and hopes.
When I stepped off the bus after spending a week in the Passage program at HoneyRock, I was disoriented, scared, thrilled, and very confused. The word spread quickly that I was the first Estonian to ever come to Wheaton and study in the undergraduate program. All of my classmates seemed very enthusiastic about the fact, even though most had no idea where the tiny country was located.
While I enjoy bragging rights both in Estonia and at Wheaton, it is at times challenging to be the first and only student from Estonia. For me, this means that I get to set the scene for the next Estonians to come after me. Even though it’s hard to find people around me who can relate to my background, I love bringing a new culture and a new perspective to my classrooms and relationships. For Wheaton, this means that our vision is reaching new countries and the student body is growing in geographical diversity.
The best part about my Wheaton experience has been the people that I’ve met here. Coming from another culture, I wasn’t accustomed to spending time with my professors and getting to know them on a personal level. I definitely experienced some culture shock as a freshman when Dr. Milliner invited me to join his family for Thanksgiving at his house. Ever since then, I’ve tried to get to know all of my professors through meals or office hours. Every one of them has been very welcoming and highly influential in my life. It’s been fun to be immersed in the American culture and meet people from all across the globe. The friends I’ve made here have made my Wheaton experience truly amazing.
Wheaton is unique in the way all parts of its community are connected and long for each other’s well-being. I am privileged to be a part of the family and I’m glad to say that I feel at home here.
Simona Andreas ’18 is a psychology and biblical and theological studies double major from Tallinn, Estonia. She is actively involved in Student Government at Wheaton as the EVP of Global Engagement. To learn more about Wheaton, connect with Wheaton College Undergraduate Admissions. Set up a visit, or apply now. Photo captions (top to bottom): Simona frequently visits downtown Chicago; Simona's hometown of Tallinn, Estonia; Simona taking photos at the Skydeck at Willis Tower.