Skip to main content

Samirah Jaigirdar ’22

Hometown: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Major: Global Islamic Studies, International Relations
Activities: Honor Council, International Student Association, Connecticut College Mock Trial
Center: CISLA

Favorite aspect of Connecticut College:
It’s normal to strike up a conversation with anyone and everyone. Regardless of whether I’m standing in line at Harris (our main dining hall), passing by the post office or even racing up the stairs at Fanning Hall, there will always be someone who says “Hi,” or smiles in acknowledgment.


Favorite memory at Connecticut College:
I spend Thursday evenings in the library with my friends from Arabic class where we hang out and work on new vocabulary. In the midst of the intercontinental adjustment, I had to do as an international student, this unspoken habit of ours makes the end of the week so much better.


Favorite activity in New London or the region:
Trying out new types of food in the numerous cafes and restaurants around New London, Mystic and Groton with my friends!

Laundry Hacks

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

No human likes doing laundry. It’s cumbersome, time-consuming, and annoying but, once in a while, we must. To do laundry at Conn, Camels make the trek down to the laundry room in their residence hall. Doing laundry can sometimes be a struggle in a shared space. But there are a few ways we can make it smoother.

Continue Reading

My First Snowman

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

A lumpy, scary looking snowman with stick ears, hands, and mouth with
Snow Chucky, in all his glory!

Although I have been living in the US for nearly three years, I generally go home during winter break so I have not had the opportunity to see an abundance of snow. But this February, New London received a large amount of snow so many international students, like me, had the chance to learn how to make a snowman. 


We were still in onboarding quarantine at the time and COVID-19 protocols were in place so my friend and I masked and booted up to head outside and finally fulfill my wish of making Olaf. We walked to Tempel Green, which had accumulated a good amount of snow, and saw many students who had started to make their own snowmen. Growing up, I had seen children on TV making snowmen. Thus, I naively thought making Olaf would be quite easy. I was so wrong! I started telling my friend that we should have bought a carrot for Olaf’s nose from the dining hall when the ball I had been rolling started to disintegrate. I tried again and it broke again. On the third try, I had a semblance of a big ball of snow but I accidentally kicked it. The attempt at making Olaf was not going well.


So we improvised. We made a big blob and then made a smaller blob for its head. The blobs definitely weren’t representative of Olaf or a traditional snowman. When we made its face using twigs and leaves, he got further away from innocent Olaf. Our blob, affectionately named Snow Chucky, emanated some scary vibes especially as it was surrounded by happy snowmen. But Snow Chucky proved to be quite resilient as he lasted three days! 

 

Continue Reading

Hacking Harris: COVID-19 Edition

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

A takeout container full of veggies, white rice, and sweet and sour chicken laid out on a table with a bottle of tropicana.
The sweet and sour chicken is an all-time favorite of mine from the dining halls!

A year and a half ago, I wrote a guide on how to hack the dining hall at Conn. Today, I will explore how to hack Harris in the age of hand sanitizers, take-out containers, and temperature scanners. Here are some quick tips and tricks I learned.

Continue Reading

First Time at the Beach!

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Samirah sits cross-legged in the sand at the beach with her mask on.
Sitting in the sand isn't so bad.

Growing up in Bangladesh, one would assume I live for the beach and the ocean. Bangladesh is home to one of the longest natural sea beaches in the world. But I hate beaches. It’s too humid, the sand gets everywhere, and the seagulls are too loud. Hence, I don’t seek out the beach in any of the places I visit. In my two and a half years at Connecticut College, I have never visited the numerous beaches around. I have sampled lobster but going to the beach never seemed like a fun activity although countless Camels go there often.

Continue Reading

International Student Hacks: Culture Shock Edition

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Six students pose together for a photo in front of fairy lights
Me with some of my South Asian friends at Diwali! Even though we’re two continents away from home, Conn’s South Asian squad is going strong.

During my first semester at Conn, I underestimated how powerful culture shock can be. American culture is so different from my own. But I also thought that I was immune to culture shock. I spent the last two years of high school in Eswatini at an international boarding school where many different nationalities were represented. Based on this experience living away from home–I’m from Bangladesh–I thought moving to the United States for college wouldn’t be that big of a change. However, it was harder than I expected. It got harder when I realized that my birthday was on the second day of classes and I knew absolutely no one (read all about it: 7,790 Miles, a Birthday, and a Camel Moment).

Continue Reading

International Student Hacks: Travel Edition

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Looking out the window of a plane the viewer can see a town down below.
Flight to anywhere

As an international student, I do a lot of traveling to and from campus. I have missed flights, lost items, been stuck in snowstorms and more. I’ve learned a lot from these experiences. And I want to share some of that knowledge with you. Hence, here are some of my tried and tested travel tips:

Continue Reading

Decoding Connections

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

When an admission representative from Connecticut College came to my high school, two things struck me about their talk: the College’s Honor Code and the Integrative Pathways in the Connections curriculum. I remember thinking how cool it would be to self-schedule an exam and learn about sustainability without necessarily majoring in it. When I later figured out that I no longer wanted to major in STEM, I was pleased to find out that Conn’s curriculum is flexible for everyone to find and construct their own niche. Connections is Conn’s liberal arts curriculum which aims to give its students an integrated approach to learning.

Continue Reading

Off-Campus Bucket List

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Smairh and her four friend pose for a photo at Six Flags
My friends and I at Six Flags New England

As I moved through my first year, I increasingly started exploring Conn’s surroundings. In the beginning, as I didn’t have a car, I thought it was going to be hard to run any errands or even leave campus, but the Camel Van made it easy to reach downtown New London, the train station, Target/Walmart and even the bank. I began to discover hidden nooks and crannies around the area with my friends, which made our weekends more eventful.

Continue Reading

Sampling Lobster

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

A lobster roll and plate of shrimp sit on a picnic table overlooking boats in the marina
Mmmm lobster

One of the fun parts about going to college in a different country is all the new food I can sample. A friend of mine was shocked to discover that, even after being in the United States for a year and a half, I had never tried lobster. Hence, a trip to Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock in New London was planned.

Continue Reading

Learning My Fourth Language

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Arabic text on paper

Last fall, prior to my arrival at Conn, I spent weeks browsing the College’s course catalog and reading the various major descriptions on the website. There were many interesting classes, but my curiosity was piqued by the College’s language requirement. Every student must complete at least two semesters of a foreign language, regardless of how many languages they already know. Over the summer, we received emails with a language study brochure (Connecticut College Language Study Brochure), which I read multiple times. The Dean of First Year Students, Emily Morash, told us that we were not required to take a language course in our first year but it is recommended so that we don’t have to worry about it in our junior or senior years. I studied French for five years and knew I wanted to start something new. But the question was: Which one? Currently, Conn offers courses in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian and Spanish. 

Continue Reading

Flipping Trajectories

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Two pieces of paper. One declaring a major. The other declaring a minor.
I've declared a major and minor!

When I was 5, I wanted to be an astronaut. At the age of 8, I declared to my mother that I would be as famous as Demi Lovato, disregarding the fact that I could not sing to save my life. As my career aspirations went from astronaut to black hole specialist to journalist, I entered high school and got into the sciences. If someone looked at my high school transcript, they would assume that I was headed toward a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) major. They would be correct. In high school, I took advanced mathematics, chemistry and physics. I wanted to be a materials scientist. Back then, nothing excited me more than spending hours in a chemistry laboratory seeing what obscure material could oxidize lead.

Continue Reading

Home To Conn

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Connecticut College's admission packet

For international students, choosing a college is a lot like throwing a dart in the dark. We don’t know what the college atmosphere is like. We don’t know how accessible the location is, and, most importantly, we don’t know what the weather is actually like. Why? Because we’ve never had a campus tour. Chances are the average international student has never visited the United States before either. When trying to find the right college for us, we’ve had to depend on the College’s website and whatever location-based information Google can provide. I was fortunate enough to be enrolled in an international high school in Swaziland that was on the visit list for a number of liberal arts colleges. I got to hear from admissions directors about their school’s programs, how each college environment differed from others, and what student life was like on campus.

Continue Reading

Teaching Bengali

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Red, purple, and blue poster with info on Samirah's Bengali course
I put up posters around campus to promote my class

Growing up bilingual, I don’t remember learning to speak either English or Bengali. I don’t know if I learned the alphabet first or how I knew to tell the difference between the words for a lamp and a lightbulb or how the two languages differed phonetically from one another. I don’t know how I learned and I could surely not advise someone trying to acquire a new language.

Continue Reading

Hacking Harris

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Salad from Harris dining hall
Daniella Mani ’20’s creation: salad and noodle soup!

As an international student, there are days when I miss a simple home-cooked meal. There are also days when I miss the freedom of being creative and whipping up recipes from the Food Network. However, I can personally attest that getting creative in a college dining hall isn’t impossible.

https://www.instagram.com/cocoworow_eats/ Continue Reading

First Semester Reflections

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

11 members of the International Camels Association memebers pose for a photo together in Unity House
International Students at ISA’s winter get together

Sitting on the tarmac at Philadelphia International Airport, I was frustrated, tired and jetlagged. I had been traveling for nearly 27 hours and plane food has never cheered me up. I was heading back to Conn after one month of winter break and my plane had been diverted to Philadelphia because of the winter storm. I was supposed to land at JFK by 8:30 a.m. and catch the Flying Camel (the College bus between JFK International Airport and Conn) at 1 p.m. It was now 11 a.m. Would I even make it?

Continue Reading

First Flurries

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Samirah and her two friends pose for a photo together outside in the snow
My friends and I after my first snowball fight

Experiencing any phenomenon for the first time is always fascinating. However, experiencing something for the first time and being cognizant of it comes with its own set of feelings. For me, this happened when I first saw snow. Growing up in Bangladesh and then eSwatini, I have experienced temperatures ranging from the mid-30s to 110 Fahrenheit. But I had never seen snow.

Continue Reading

My Dinner With the President

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Students assemble for a photo with President Bergeron in the president's living room
Muslim Student Association Members with President Bergeron, her husband, Butch Rovan, and Dean of Institutional Equity and Inclusion John McKnight at the president’s house.

This October, President Katherine Bergeron had members of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) over to her house for dinner. The MSA at Conn aims to build a warm and comforting environment for Muslim students and to educate the wider Conn community about the nuances of the culture. Established in 2015 by a Bangladeshi Conn alum (just like me!), the MSA has introduced me to new friends and given me a wider exposure to how Islam is practiced in different regions of the world.

Continue Reading

Adulting

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Samirah and her roommate sitting side-by-side giggling on the couch
Huge shoutout to my roommate who is making my transition into adulthood easier!

When I was packing to move from Bangladesh to Connecticut College, I mentally prepared myself to choose classes for my first semester, make new friends, be a good roommate and most importantly, adjust to a new country. I arrived at Conn and these four things happened smoothly with minimal bumps. I thought I was doing great at this “being an adult” thing. I even boasted about it to my mom.

Unfortunately, the saying that “pride comes before the fall” is true. In my fifth week at Conn, I got an email from Student Health Services (SHS) stating that I needed to get a Tuberculosis (TB) test because Bangladesh was still considered to be on the list of countries with TB prevalence. Now, I had no problem going in and doing a test. But then I saw that it was actually a blood test they wanted me to do instead of the usual skin test that TB required. I remember frantically rereading the email and telling my roommate in Bengali about my fear of needles, which she obviously didn’t understand. But my panicked speech in a foreign language helped her comprehend my intense phobia. After much reassurance from her and after my mom laughed at my fears via WhatsApp, a free call/messaging app that I would recommend for all international students, I called SHS to schedule my appointment. On the day of the actual blood draw, I forced myself to sit in the chair with encouragement from my friend Anne and my roommate. All in all, it was my worst moment at Conn but I’m proud of myself for not fainting. This was my first proper step into the world of ‘adulting.’

Four other adulting moments I’ve experienced in the last two months:

Continue Reading

Navigating a Parentless Fall Weekend

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Students pose as a group after the Fall Weekend parentless dinner
Fall Weekend Parentless Dinner 2018

Fall Weekend is Conn’s version of a parents weekend, homecoming and alumni reunion rolled into one. It’s the most recently graduated class’s half-year reunion and it’s the first weekend parents of first-years can come and experience Conn without the stress of Move-In Day. However, what happens when your mother lives a 24-hour plane ride away?

Continue Reading

Navigating a Parentless Fall Weekend

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22

Students pose as a group after the Fall Weekend parentless dinner
Fall Weekend Parentless Dinner 2018

Fall Weekend is Conn’s version of a parents weekend, homecoming and alumni reunion rolled into one. It’s the most recently graduated class’s half-year reunion and it’s the first weekend parents of first-years can come and experience Conn without the stress of Move-In Day. However, what happens when your mother lives a 24-hour plane ride away?

Continue Reading