Video Diary: The First 40

Posted by Diane Toroian Keaggy October 16, 2017

Meet international student Astrella Sjarfi, a minor in design and one of three members of the Washington University in St. Louis Class of 2021.

Back in August, The Record asked these first-year students to record one second of video every day for their first 40 or so days on campus. Here, learn more about Sjarfi and her first days in college. To view other students' videos, click here>>

Astrella Sjarfi

Hometown: Jakarta, Indonesia

Major: Leaning toward economics and art history in Arts & Sciences with a minor in design from the Sam Fox School

Sjarfi on arriving in St. Louis: "Those first days were such a blur. It took 24 hours just to travel to New York. But I’m at the point where I’m starting to think of this place of home."

Why did you decide to study in America? I went to an IB (International Baccalaureate) school, so I always knew I would go to college in either the United States or the United Kingdom. My family is more familiar with America, and my dad actually went to Washington University. Still, I was concerned about coming here because of the travel ban and because Missouri is a red state. Those fears went away when I got here for international student orientation. We played this game called "Step In, Step Out." We all stood in a big circle, and someone shouted out a statement like "Step in if you identify as Asian." So you step in, acknowledge each other and step back out again. We did that a few rounds and then they got to "Step in if you are Muslim." I realized I wasn't the only one. That made me feel better. It was nice to be able to acknowledge each other without exclaiming our identities.

What have you learned since you arrived here? I'm in the Designing Creativity class, and every week a different person comes to talk about the ways designers can improve people's everyday experience. I could see bringing those ideas back home, where there is a lot of poverty and communication is not conveyed well. I've also met so many people with backgrounds so different than mine. One of my roommates is a first-generation student from the College Prep Program, so she's introduced me to places around St. Louis, and I've told her what instant noodles are best. We're learning from each other.

Have you joined any clubs? I've joined Ultimate Frisbee. This girl just came up to me at the Activities Fair and asked me to join. I didn't know what to say. I wasn't against the idea, but all I knew about the sport was that involved throwing a Frisbee. It turned out I actually like it and I'm not terrible.