It’s not you, Europe. It’s America.

I came to Syracuse because the European higher education system wasn’t doing it for me.

As an American growing up in Europe, one question loomed over me the closer I got to the end of secondary school: would I stay in Europe, or return to the United States for university? My friends, family and teachers would constantly probe: what are you going to do, Jaye Michelle?

In the end, I chose to come back to America. It was more of what US universities had to offer, rather than what European ones didn’t. There were elements of college culture that I knew I wanted in a higher education.

The first was fluidity and flexibility. One thing that I really appreciate about the American university system is the liberty that students have to study whatever piques their fancy, by choosing from the long, long list of majors offered, combining programs, or even constructing their own. I needed to have the ability to keep my options open. My heart wasn’t totally set on one area of study, and I wanted to do as much exploring as I could with no strings attached.

Second was community. European university campuses are solely academic. There is nothing that unifies the students; there is nothing that makes the campus feel smaller. In the US, campus culture is what graduating high school students dream of. The only campus culture I saw, growing up in Europe, were American movies and TV shows that glorified college life: dorm living, sports teams and school spirit, frat parties, and all around young, wild fun. I wanted to rep a school color, and join ten organizations, and dress up for themed parties on the weekends. Most importantly, I wanted to live with other young scholars and experience things that would create great discussions and debates, sharing our knowledge about our specific areas of study. 

What drew me to Syracuse University specifically was less methodical, and more emotional. When I first visited the campus, it just felt right. It was October, Syracuse’s prettiest season. Ivy covered the buildings, and brown leaves were scattered all over Campus Hill. The sky was far less attractive; dark blotchy clouds threatened rain above. But I was mesmerized by what this orange university had to offer. Its beauty, its pride, its pursuit of knowledge are all things that I am grateful to have during my college career.

It’s been two years since I move back stateside to start at SU. It’s been very different, but great. I think that I made the right choice in terms of deciding to return to the United States after high school.

One last thing that drew me back to my birth country was the opportunity to truly discover and explore it. I have now immersed myself in real American culture rather than skimming the surface during my summer and winter break visits.

Now that I’ve had the chance to experience America, I am more than ready to go back to Europe, or wherever my future will take me. I may not settle in the US, but I am glad that I can say that an important part of my life happened here.


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