Tag Archives: Culture Shock

International Student Orientation!

This week is madness at work… 14 hour days, running here and there, answering question after question, and helping all our new students settle in. Yep– it’s international orientation week!

This year we have our largest class ever– roughly 170 international freshmen and about 250 new international graduate students. Now to those of you from giant US state schools, those numbers might sound small, but for an engineering school with only 4,000 total students, and only two full time int’l student advisors, that’s a lot of people to help and keep track of!

But the craziness is also really fun, and I’m always excited to meet our new students.

So in honor of this I wanted to re-post links to two youtube videos on Culture Shock/Cultural Adjustment that I like to use with our new students. Even though it is geared towards graduate students, I think the presenter does a great job introducing the topic and his own experiences with transitioning to life in the US.

Part I:

Part II:

And while I’m at it… I’ll repost one more thing— the PHD comics on “F-1 Student Visa Process Explained” (I have this hanging on my wall in my office.)

Musing on International Student Advising and Cultural Adjustment

As I’ve mentioned before, work has been a bit busy. I’m an international student advisor at a mid-sized science and engineering school in Massachusetts, and during the past two-three weeks all of our new students arrived.

I work with graduate and undergraduate students from all over the world, helping with immigration and tax questions, cultural adjustment concerns, and international programming as well as religious diversity programming. The beginning of the school year is the busiest—orientations and lots of questions from all our new students, organizing events and programs, registering all the students in various databases. This year we had our biggest international freshmen class in the history of the college, 115 students… with another 150+ new graduate students. That means our school has approximately 650+ internationals this year. That’s a lot of people (at least for a small office).

I really enjoy working with international students. I like being able to make connections and help them with their tough questions. Although I’m often critiqued by family for not being “American enough” I feel that working with international students reiterates how much I have to think about American culture. Especially with the new students, we need to be able to answer their questions– everything from what is involved in signing a lease and opening a bank account and getting a social security number to answering questions on US classroom culture, explaining local, regional and national history, and musings on why Americans call football soccer.

One of the most interesting sessions (in my opinion) that we have for new students is a program on cultural adjustment and the phases of cultural shock. As part of the program we show a 13 minute youtube video that was taped during a Columbia Business School graduate international orientation a few years ago. The Israeli student presenter does a wonderful job talking about his own experiences, and putting cultural adjustment into a perspective. So I wanted to share.

Part I:

Part II:

There are more parts but you can follow the links on youtube.

Working with the students reminds me that P and a lot of our close friends were (and some still are) international students, and I know I would want someone at their schools to take good care of them and help them with their questions. So I aim to help the best I can to be there for my students as well.

So I guess that is my way of saying, schools back in session!