The workshops that are provided by the Office of International Services are really good resources to get to know more about the university and what’s going on around the campus. By attending the workshop I have known about the student recreation center. It offers different kinds of fitness classes and provides a whole sets of gym equipments including swimming pool. All you need is just to bring your ID card with you then you can have full access to anything in the center. I went to yoga and hip hop classes this Monday, the instructors are patient and professional, the students are friendly. Their classes are designed for students of all levels, even beginners would feel very comfortable in the class. They also have yoga mat and clean stuff that every student can use, very thoughtful. It’s a great place for working out and keeping ourselves healthy – really worth a try!
I think for most international students who just arrived in the US, other than adapting the new school life here, the most important and interesting thing to do is to attend some activities and to try different restaurants around town. As everyone wants to use as less money as they can to have the most fun, I’m going introduce these two great websites to my student fellows, www.livingsocial.com and www.groupon.com .
I have been using them for a long time and I’ve always gotten great deals on them. They offer deals on different activities, events and restaurants, from paintball, vineyard tour, skydiving, vacations, to concerts, different kind of classes, beauty services. I just went to a paintball game in PA not long ago, met great people there, had an exciting game, they even offered lunch, we had so much fun that day.
I have made some new friends from some of the activities I have been to, it’s a great resource to increase our social circle and get to know more about American people, culture and life while you are having fun at the same time.
As an international student from China, I had my very first class last Wednesday. Even though I have been working as an Au Pair in Montclair for 2 years, I still felt quite nervous about the first night of school.
We had a briefly self-introduction at the beginning of the class, everyone seemed very nice, that did calm me down a little bit. However, when the class was over, I started to ask myself, can I really make it through this semester? I felt overwhelmed already even though it was only the first class. All those readings, papers and presentations we will have to do down the road, does give me lot of pressures due to my lack of Academic English skills. I also found it hard to catch up in class when it comes to some examples that were related to history, culture and society of the US, things that I’m not familiar with since I was not raised in this country and I sure have a lot to learn.
Fortunately, I have a great advisor who has also been an international student before, to provide me very useful and thoughtful suggestions and advices. After our conversation about the problems I came across, my mind is much more clear now and my confidence is back. Some of you might find it very easy to adjust, which is good. But the beginning is always hard, for those who have the same problem as me, I hope you can hang in there and find someone to talk about the problem. Just like my professor always says “Don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world”.
I think my words for the first semester would be “Work hard, but don’t be too hard on yourself”. Hope everyone enjoys their college life!
Every international student comes to the U.S. with lots of dreams to succeed. In spite of their strong academic and professional backgrounds, international students confront lots of challenges adjusting to the university and cultural environments here in the U.S. Though they experience many challenges, I have listed a few that are considered to be major challenges in terms of getting used to the academic environments in the U.S. They are:
• Avoiding Plagiarism
• Mastering English (oral and written)
• Taking part in group work (getting used to U.S. classmates)
• Expressing their views during classroom discussions, research paper and assignments
• Treating peers and professors with respect
While the above said problems are real life challenges, solutions are not too far. Below listed are some of the simple steps that we could take to succeed.
• Understanding the do’s and don’ts before writing a research paper or an assignment in discussion with a professor
• Practicing the language vigorously through reading, listening, writing and speaking
• Taking initiatives to communicate with the group and seek help when required
• Gaining clarity in terms of what is expected out of us as a student and take appropriate steps to meet the expectations
• Looking for role models and adapting to the U.S. way
The above listed solutions are my suggestions. As an international student, each one of us would have come up with a unique way of confronting challenges. How about sharing it here for the benefit of many? I found the following links useful in this context and would like to share with you the links.
My Mexican classmate told me an embarrassing experience one day.
He asked me, “Do you like the life here?”
I said without thinking, “Yes, the people here are so nice and friendly. ”
After that, he said, “Really, last week, a girl was almost going to sue me.”
I said, “What! What did you do to her?”
He explained that he met that girl several times and he thought they were friends. However, last Friday, when he saw that girl in front of the building, he walked toward her and gave her a hug. Suddenly, that girl became so angry, according to what he explained
“I don’t like the culture here. In Mexico, it would be weird if you saw someone you know without hugging. People here are so cold!” He said these with a little bit hopeless.
This is a meaningful lesson. Especially, for us, being international students in America. It is really important for us to face the culture differences and deal with it carefully. It is understandable that the Mexican boy felt bad about this. However, it is not smart for him to judge all Americans based on one individual. Basically, people who live in the same area share the same culture, however, it doesn’t mean each person has the same personality and uses exactly the same way to express himself.
People can be friendly in their own way, of course, body language included, but there are thousands of other ways to express it as well. For that girl, I guess a smile is enough. It doesn’t matter how people express their own friendly for me, a hug is nice, only smile is acceptance as well, as long as they are sincere.
Eventually, I told my classmate, “Take it easy, she was just feeling uncomfortable about that hug at that time!”
Hurricane Sandy made history by devastating portions of Caribbean, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern parts of United States. All of us here in NJ experienced the impact of the hurricane Sandy in one way or the other; waiting in long queue for hours together to fill gasoline, spending dark and cold nights without power, drinking soups and eating breads all day as there were no facility to cook, having trees fall on the car in the parking lot, missing school and so on.
On the one hand, all of us experienced one or more of the above said impact, but on the other hand, many helping hands came from all sides offering some help. Many of my classmates at Montclair offered to open their doors for people who were victims of Sandy. Professors extended the dates to submit assignments. Food drives and donation drives were organized to help victims of hurricane Sandy. I was happy volunteering in one of the schools at Randolph.
Discrimination did not a play a role, but a common cause to help the needy did. Such actions reassure to each one of us the power of being together. Montclair State University is also organizing a donation drive to Sandy victims. Not just that, the University has come up with other ways too to help Sandy victims. Visit this link to find out what you can do to help: http://www.montclair.edu/student-development-campus-life/center-student-involvement/events/superstormsandyrelief/
Every one of us joins the undergraduate/graduate programs with different thoughts and different purposes. It is beautiful to be diverse. It’s even more beautiful to find out, that people with diverse background, interests and aims possess some commonalities as well. All of us love to feel worthy and be productive. I believe it’s a precious human quality we possess. We love to talk, discuss and be in company with like- minded people. It’s fun! As international students, we share a few common things like staying away from families, missing cultural festivals back home, facing a few stumbling blocks here in the US and melting to get adapted to the US culture.
While this happens in many of us, we often end up asking, “What do I do during my free time?” I get to hear this from many of the international students known to me. I appreciate it. To me, it sounds like a ‘growth question’. Nurturing the thirst in each one of us, to positively grow is a possible solution my little mind could think of.
I asked the same ‘growth question’ to one of my seniors and he said, “Why don’t you consider joining ‘clubs and organizations’? Go to student center and get more information.” I came back, did a Google search and got this link http://www.montclair.edu/clubs/. It is a quick line for sure, to take us through the various clubs, their objectives, activities and frequency of meeting. Every club is unique and has a great cause to which we could get connected. Choose the right club for you email them and get connected. I have joined ‘Equity and Diversity’ and ‘Indian Cultural Club’.
International graduate orientation – “Attendance is mandatory. If not, your registration for courses will be on hold”. All of us are familiar with these words. I was shocked as I glanced at the timings. “OMG! What am I going to do all this time?” This was a quick thought that flickered in my mind. I decided to attend the orientation as it had a heavy tag on it – ‘mandatory’.
The D- day arrived. I reached the conference center. Smiling faces in red t-shirts; the student workers at the international services – it was a beckoning call to me. I heard lots of whispering as though a Pandora box was opened. A few of them include: “I don’t know why it is compulsory?” “Can’t they finish it earlier?” “ I know it’s all the same information”. Believe me; the session answered every whisper. It opened up the door of do’s and don’ts. Anecdotes shared described what could go wrong and how do we seek help. A note on campus life, tips on keeping up the academic credits, US culture and campus resources created a great sense of confidence in me. To be honest, we were not bombarded by information one after the other. I really appreciate the moments reserved to ‘loosen up’. Knowing each other is a great art and I believe the orientation gave us a taste of it in the form of a wonderful game.
Reflecting back, I feel happy that the orientation is mandatory. If only I had missed it, I would have missed the value it added on my understanding of my legal status, the awareness of helping hands available on the campus and the fun element. It would have defeated the very purpose of my presence here. I wish all the international students attend the orientation with a right spirit and take home a greater understanding.
As an international Jewish student, a community that understands my culture and can celebrate it with me on our holidays and events is something important for me. When first arriving at Montclair I was searching for a Jewish organization that I can join that will help me feel more like home. The University has a Hillel organization on campus. However, unfortunately, we do not have organizations like the Israel-on-campus like there are in other universities across the US(Carnegie Mellon, for example). This is probably because there are not many Israelis at the university (I am the only Israeli in my department, and in fact, another student and I are the only Jewish students in the department).
Although Hillel is a small and intimate organization and does not have many student members, it is well-managed by two lovely directors who are dedicated, putting their heart and soul to organize successful events such as Shabbat dinners, holidays, and other significant events. I, for example, attended Shabbat dinner and celebrated Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot with them. During Sukkot, for example, they made a Sukkah outside the campus and brought in a Chabad rabbi from New York to give a blessing. Last week they had hosted an “Israel Night,” with a group of Israelis student visitors from Kibbutzim College.
The Israel Night took place in the dorms of the international students at the Village apartments. They invited everybody to come and celebrate and there were students from Norway, Russia, Germany, Poland, Korea, Lebanon, et cetera. They made real Israeli food – hummus, pita, Shakshuka, Matbucha, as well as Israeli salad and brought halva and chocolates from the Israel. Of course, there was also Israeli Music.
(: To conclude- Aya Sameach! Hope there will be more!