Ruchika Jain is marriage and family therapy graduate student from India
Year: Expected graduation: 2024
Major: Marriage and family therapy Master's program
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you pursuing that as a major, or have you taken another path?
Since I was 15 years old, I knew I wanted to study psychology. I did not know anything about the subject or its career options, but the whole idea about studying human behavior intrigued me. Eventually, with each passing year I got a closer understanding of the field, and 10 years later, here I am as a therapist, pursuing my second master’s degree in marriage and family therapy at NIU.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
I did a triple major in psychology, sociology and English literature, as well as a master’s degree in counseling psychology, back in India. I did a few internships, working with special children, in corporate and mental health set-ups. The exposure to these places helped me navigate my career path. I decided to do a master’s right after my bachelor’s. It was 2020 when I completed my post-graduation and the pandemic hit. I was practicing as a therapist for the past two-and-a-half years. My professional experience helped me understand my niche and the kind of population I liked working with—and would want to work in the future, as well. Coming from a very collectivistic culture, I understand how parenting and family plays a role in the development of a human. Hence, I decided to specialize in marriage and family therapy.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
I am very amused and grateful for how everyone on campus is so helpful. Even when I walk past a stranger, they would smile or just say, "Have a good day," which always made me feel acknowledged and comfortable. The campus is beautiful, and it creates such a stress-free environment to just sit, work, relax or chill with your friends. And all of this helped me settle faster than I was expecting.
How have you connected with other students to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
Everyone is just easy to talk to and so approachable. I have started making new friends, not from just my cohort, but others as well. Hopefully looking forward to creating deeper connections.
Are you involved in any student organizations, mentoring programs or extra-curricular activities? If so, which ones? How have they added to your experience as a Huskie?
I am a part of the Indian Student Association as of now, which has helped me meet a lot of new people.
I am trying to be active and regular with the group fitness activities at the Recreation Center. It has helped me take care of my body and mind. And also meet people who have the same interests as mine.
What NIU offices, departments or resources have helped you succeed? And how?
The Holmes Student Center has been that one place I have been every day for the whole of the first week. I would sit there and work, and meet new freshers walking in. The library, of course, will eventually become my temporary home. Other than that, my department has been really helpful in making sure I am adjusting well in a new country and new environment with all new people around.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
One of my favorite teachers would be my developmental psychology teacher in my first master’s program. He is amazing not only because he has a lot of academic knowledge, but also because he taught us with a lot of experiences. He spoke to us about practicalities in the field, what we would be facing after we graduate and how can we take care of such situations in life. I remember a lot of things that he taught because they were experiential more than theoretical.
How have you benefited by attending class regularly?
I love attending classes in person. Being in class just adds to the discussion and what is being taught. It feels more lively and more informative. I made a conscious decision to pursue this degree, and coming to class is something that I genuinely look forward to. Being in class makes me think more and learn better.
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
My favorite spot on campus would be the East Lagoon. That place is so serene, quiet and beautiful. I have been there in the morning for walks and in the evening just to relax. The place lets me get some peace and space to think, reflect and just be myself.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
The application process can be overwhelming; however, you will get through it. Being a student is not easy, but what you learn and the impact you are going to make in the world is worth it. College is a place where you would learn a lot about life, meet new people, have millions of experiences and build the person that you want to be.
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
I am an international student, and there are a lot of changes I had to adapt to from the education system I have been used to. I learned how to focus more on personal and self reading, the way classes, assignments and exams are conducted here. I am handling multiple things, and multitasking and time management are becoming my friends. I also learned about having an on-campus job and studying side by side. These are bigger changes, but everything in general was a shift coming from a different country and back to school after two-and-a-half years of a full-time job.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I always try to take some time to work out. It definitely helps me feel charged up, both mentally and physically. I plan a day that is balanced, so I do not overwork myself and have some time to talk to my friends and family or watch something. I do not really compromise on my sleep or my meals unless something really important comes up. Listening to music, talking to people or eating something I am craving are also ways to relax myself. I do consider self-care really important and listen to my feelings when I want or don't want to do something. I am building the habit of reading again.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your NIU Huskie story?
It was always a dream to study abroad and study something I am truly passionate about. Being in a multicultural environment makes me feel grateful and excited about each day and how it’s going to shape my future, and overall me as a person. There is so much to learn and offer.