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International Students Settle In

Orientations help new Northwestern students deal with culture shock

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September 12, 2013

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University welcomes 1,100 new international students from more than 100 different countries this fall.

To help smooth the transition and ease the effects of culture shock, the University’s International Office hosts a series of orientation sessions to introduce international students and their families to life at Northwestern.

“For many people, this is their first time away home. And of course no two students share the same experience,” International Office advisor Debbie Kaltman said. “A person from a large bustling city might consider Evanston quiet, while someone from a small rural area might be overwhelmed by Chicago’s size. Depending on the weather, one might feel right at home or very, very cold.”

China, South Korea, India, Canada and Taiwan are the five countries most represented by this year’s class of incoming international students.

The orientation sessions are organized so students can share personal stories, trade advice and make plans to explore campus together.

“We want international students to feel welcome,” Kaltman said. “We try to show them that, even though they’re thousands of miles from their communities, customs and first languages, they’re among friends here.”

As part of the undergraduate international student orientation, members of the Class of 2017 will cheer the Wildcats against Western Michigan University at Ryan Field Sat., Sept. 14. They also will enjoy a bonfire on the lakefill and visit Chicago before joining other new and transfer students during Wildcat Welcome.

Graduate international student orientation will feature presentations from University career services, counseling and psychological services, and other campus resources. Sixteen peer leaders dubbed “graduate sidekicks” also will discuss graduate student life at Northwestern with master’s and Ph.D. students.

- This article is by Darcy Rose Coussens