Sophomore Clara Dunn left her home in Dundee, Scotland and became a Keene State College Owl in order to expand her writing career and explore an American college’s literary horizons.
Dunn has already published two novels and is looking to publish another one.
Her first novel, which she published in high school, is titled “The All England Club.” It is what Dunn calls a “tennis/romance novel.” According to Dunn, the book is about a male tennis player who falls in love with a ball girl at Wimbledon.
Dunn said her second novel, called “Jake Huntley,” deals more with crime and sexual violence. “I posted it to Facebook and one chapter in particular got a lot of criticism.”
Because of the book’s more graphic content, Dunn said that the police liaison at her school even asked her to “pop a little 16-and-up warning on there.”
Dunn said that she enjoys developing her characters’ emotional and physical relationships with each other.
Although Dunn already has seven drafts of her current novel that she is writing, she said she still wants to change it.
“I always read my work and want to improve it every time.”
In addition to exploring publishing opportunities, Dunn said she found many classes at KSC that she wouldn’t be able to take at colleges in Dundee.
Dunn said classes such as Fiction Workshop with Brinda Charry and Literary Analysis with Emily Robins-Sharpe have given her “a nice change,” as far as curriculum and course load are concerned.
“I love my professors here so much,” Dunn said. “They really want to help you do well.”
Dunn has also faced some tribulations that come with attending a foreign school very far away from home.
“I really am still trying to get the measure of how American students acclimate to the varying course loads,” Dunn said.
Dunn added she sometimes gets homesick. “I really miss my friends, and the food that is available there and not in America,” said Dunn. “I want some haggis but you can’t find it here.”
In the future, Dunn said she hopes to be able to make a living off of writing, but she doesn’t want it to be the only thing in her life.
“I’m not doing it just for the money,” Dunn said. “The fun is definitely still there and isn’t going anywhere.”
Director of the Global Education Office Skye Stephenson works with students who come to KSC from other countries.
Stephenson said that Dunn has “made a huge emergence in Keene.”
With a new culture, Stephenson said there are a lot of great creative influences and opportunities for broadening one’s education. “Students want to come here and see what it was like,” Stephenson said.
Stephenson added there are many differences between American schools and Scottish schools.
“In Scotland and most of Europe, there is no attendance list or weighted grades,” Stephenson said. “It’s either pass or fail.”
Similar to Dunn’s comment on adjusting to the course load, Stephenson said students from Europe aren’t used to short and sporadic assignments, but rather more long term assignments.
“Adjusting to a school system that is very different from what they are familiar with can be difficult for some students,” Stephenson said. However, Stephenson said, Dunn is adjusting well and making herself a part of the community.
Associate Director of the Global Education Office Steven Spiegel has worked closely with Dunn since she came to KSC.
“I helped her fill out her immigration papers and get her United States student visa,” Spiegel said. “Every student that comes here from another country has to file for a student visa and get approved.”
Along with the pressures of adjusting to a new academic system, Spiegel said Dunn and other exchange students have to acclimate to a whole new culture and way of life.
“Academics around the world are very different, no matter where you go,” said Spiegel. Despite these challenges, Spiegel said Dunn “definitely stands out in the community” as a student and a writer.
Lucas Thors can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org