March 13, 2023 | Matt Kucinski

A student sits on a rock and smiles with a building and trees behind him.
Rachit Kharel is a sophomore from Nepal studying elementary education at Calvin University.

The transition from high school to college is a big moment for anyone. But for Rachit Kharel, a sophomore elementary education major at Calvin University, the moment felt even bigger.

“It was a very anxious moment,” said Kharel.

Layers of uncertainty

From Nepal, Kharel was considering his options in his home country and in nearby India. He was also making his decision during the height of COVID, meaning more layers of uncertainty.

Add to that a yet to be discovered ADHD diagnosis, and it was clear Kharel was carrying a lot.

When Calvin University representatives visited his high school, Kharel was intrigued by the university and its academic options, but more uncertainty came into play. The United States was a much further move than his other options. Would he be able to afford it coming from a missionary family? Was he academically strong enough?

It became clear that Kharel needed help figuring this out.

Encountering guides

On a trip to Nepal with his pre-med and nursing students, Calvin University professor of chemistry Kumar Sinniah met Kharel’s dad. “He encouraged my dad to have me apply to Calvin, and he helped me work through my personal statement of faith as well.”

When it came to navigating VISA issues, application questions, financial aid, “international admissions was in constant contact, they affirmed and reassured us a lot, directed us, showed us what was possible, the legal steps we needed to take. Tara [director of international admissions and immigration at Calvin] did a great job of easing our stresses, going back and forth with emails.”

For Kharel, the pre-college anxiety was starting to fade, but when it came time to move 7,000 miles east to Grand Rapids, Michigan, new layers of anxiety surfaced.

“I thought the actual transition would be so rough, that I’d be overwhelmed, miss my family,” said Kharel. “The sense before coming here was maybe I won’t last that long.”

Removing anxiety together

But last, he has, and it’s because “the community made me feel like home here, [offering] excellent services to help me, to assure me I can survive college.”

He felt layers of anxiety removed by layers of community. From staff in Calvin’s Center for Intercultural Student Development office to the Center for Counseling and Wellness, from resident directors to resident assistants, Orientation Board leaders to Barnabas leaders. Even his professors created intentional space for students outside of class.

“When I heard about professor office hours, I was like ‘what is that?’,” said Kharel, who had no concept of the term at the time. “In core 100, Professor Zwart asked us to sign up for 1-on-1 time so she could get to know her students better, this was my first exposure to what office hours looked like. I got used to using office hours for my classes, and not just when I was confused, but if I wanted to appreciate something more that we talked about in class. None of my professors makes me feel like I’m wasting their time, they make me feel like they set that time aside just for me to talk with them.”

Finding community

To Kharel, “it didn’t feel like I was in a foreign land.”

Because he wasn’t. He had found community through dancing in Dance Guild and Rangeela, through connections he made through the Center for Intercultural Student Development office, in his classes, and in so many other places and spaces.

“When I hear the word ‘community,’ I think of a group of people forming around one particular thing,” said Kharel. “But at Calvin, it goes beyond to include so many groups coming together making that community, and that diversity in community spices things up more.”

More info

Whether you are an American citizen living abroad or a citizen of another country (including Canada), our international admissions team is eager to provide you with information and resources that will help you with the admissions process and your transition to the U.S. and to Calvin.

Contact us

Phone: (616) 526-6106

Toll free: (800) 688-0122

Fax: (616) 526-6777


Upcoming events

Get your questions answered during one of our upcoming webinars. See the full calendar of admissions events, and register for the event(s) you plan to virtually attend.

March 14 - Family Webinar (housing)

March 21 - Visit Calvin Online (career pathways)

March 23 - International Admitted Student Webinar

March 30 - International Admitted Student Webinar

April 6 - International Admitted Student Webinar

April 13 - International Admitted Student Webinar

April 18 - Final College Decisions & Your Questions Answered Webinar

April 20 - International Admitted Student Webinar

April 27 - International Admitted Student Webinar

May 4 - International Admitted Student Webinar

May 11 - International Admitted Student Webinar

May 18 - International Admitted Student Webinar

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