Let Us Introduce You: Luis Nolla

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Graduating from high school is a big stepping stone in one’s life.

Regardless of what you decide to do after, you enter a seemingly different world. Tose who decide to further their education and attend college are faced with new people, new places and new homes.

Even with all this change, incoming students find comfort in each other, knowing they’re in the same boat. But what about the other people? Those who come to college not only from different cities, but from different countries and continents? How do their experiences differ from our own?

This is a question that we may not often think about, as we already have enough on our plates, yet it deserves a place in the spotlight. And what better place to look for students from all over the world than SLU?

The University is teeming with people from all corners of the planet. Tis week, we had a chance to get an international student’s perspective on going to school in a different country.

Meet Luis Nolla. He’s a third year student studying sports business in the Cook School of Business. He is one of many international students studying here.

Nolla is originally from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. For those of you who don’t know much about this country, here are some facts: First of all, Puerto Rico is an island situated in the Caribbean, next to the Dominican Republic. It has about three and a half million inhabitants and is actually a U.S. territory, which means everyone there has American citizenship. They also use the U.S. dollar, and their official languages are Spanish and English.

Although these facts help us get a better understanding of Luis’ background, we wanted to know  more about him and how he came to study in Saint Louis.

He said he had known he wanted to study in the United States since he was in eighth grade, because “public funds aren’t going to the right places.”

According to Luis, the government had not been doing a good job of providing the country with proper education and students would often protest on college campuses, cancelling classes for weeks at a time.

Luis didn’t want that to interfere with his education and as a U.S. citizen, he was given a chance to study anywhere in the country.

But why SLU? As it turns out, Luis attended a private Jesuit high school called Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola. They had college fairs every semester where university representatives came to recruit students. Colleges such as Lynn University, Tampa and, more importantly, Saint Louis University all attended. Already coming from a private Jesuit high school, Saint Louis University’s values matched with his own. He made his decision and never looked back.

Before his freshman year, Luis had traveled all over the United States but had never been to St. Louis before. Being a third-generation SLU student, he felt confident that he would succeed in a place his father and grandfather had spoken so highly of. He packed his bags to attend SLU 101.

“It’s great! Such a good way to form friendships before classes … helps you prepare for college …and meet people from all over the world.” He spoke so highly about his experiences with SLU 101, and it was clear that from that point on he had made the right choice.

Luis said he loved the way the University encouraged discussion and helped him get over his shyness. He has built great relationships with professors and met students from all over the world doing so. “My best friends are from Kansas City, and my roommate is from Spain.”

He also feels that SLU is diverse and allows him to not feel like an outsider. But, when asked if he had ever dealt with stereotypes, he said that he had sometimes been asked questions such as, “Are you Mexican?” or “Do you have AC in Puerto Rico?”

However, instead of getting mad, Luis prefers to educate and enlighten people about his culture. Despite these occasional encounters, when asked if he felt comfortable here as an international student, Luis responded with an unequivocal “yes.”

As for his future, Luis says he would love to work in the U.S. and continue his career in sports business, becoming the third generation in his family to graduate from SLU along the way.