Today we speak to Marko Pantovic, a senior Computer Science major and basketball student-athlete from Belgrade, Serbia. Marko transferred to Rowan University from Maryville University in Missouri. Marko tells us about the chance experience that led him to Rowan and shares his advice for future international students.
How did you end up transferring to Rowan?
In the summer of 2018, my brother was just getting married. He had been dating his girlfriend for eight years. They both met at Drexel. They had a wedding in Philly that summer. My family and I decided to look at schools around the area because they lived in Mullica Hill, NJ. I decided to look at Rowan. The school looked great, and they had the major I wanted to do. The D3 level doesn’t matter. Basketball doesn’t matter. Joe Crispin, the Rowan Men’s Basketball coach, set up a tour for me right after I email him. I did the tour, and then I committed right on the spot. I loved everything about Rowan. It was also great to be near my brother for the first time in years.
How did moving closer to your brother affect your college career?
My brother became more of a father figure towards me, which I didn’t expect. I really appreciated him because he’s been pushing me to be my best, not just in school, but also on the court and with everything else. He’s shown me how it looks like living life here. I loved every second I’ve been here.
What was it like, transitioning to life in the United States?
Well, I know some people from back home who felt so homesick they had to go back home. I have never felt that way, but I think it was because my older siblings came to the United States as well. I did a prep year before going to college, and there were three or four Serbs there, as well as other international students. The next year, I felt by myself. The holidays and winter break were especially lonely. Winter break felt like it would never end. That was a big reason I wanted to transfer to Rowan. Now that I am living with my brother, his wife and my two little nephews, I feel at home. I don’t get as homesick as I did before.
Do you have any advice for future international students on how to make yourself at home?
My brother was not the only person who made me feel at home here. I also give credit to Nick and Rob, two of the other seniors on the basketball team. They accepted me as soon as I came here. I would say finding a group of friends is important. You can find one on your team, in your major, or through other international students at the International Center.
The International Center here is great. They have banquets, meet-and-greets, and other events. They were especially helpful my first semester here when I was trying to see if there was anyone else from my country here.
How did you choose your major?
Computer science is really vast. Cybersecurity, everything we do on our phones and computers, is all computer science. A cash register at a store is computer science. The vastness attracted me, and I wanted to explore it. My dad works at an IT company, so I have been exposed to it. Ever since I was a kid, I have always loved computers and loved working with them. I had never experienced software and programming, so I have been learning a lot in my courses. I learned how much I like computer science, and how vast it is.
What is your favorite part of computer science?
I’ve had a lot of software development classes the last two semesters, which have been amazing and I’ve had so much fun with them. I’d like to focus on software development, but I’m not sure if I want to do it in web apps or mobile apps.
Do you have a favorite moment with your basketball team?
In Serbia, we take basketball really seriously. The fans are passionate; they chant and support their team, and they yell at the other team. I love that kind of environment. We had a setting like that in Jersey City, and we won the game. It was awesome, and I’ll never forget it.
What made you feel that you made the right decision, coming to Rowan?
The whole Rowan experience, I’m really thankful for it. I didn’t think school would be this great. I always knew I was going to stick through it. I always knew I would finish school with a degree in something. When I was here, I literally had a feeling I didn’t want to leave. Rowan has become a second home for me, and I’m really thankful for it.
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