24-From Arriving to Thriving

24-From Arriving to Thriving


Please click the link to watch the recording of the webinar titled “From Arriving to Thriving: Transitioning to U.S. Life as an International Student.”

[Global Connections Podcast ] Episode 24 [ New Podcast Episode ] From Arriving to Thriving: Transitioning to U.S. Life as an International Student Description: In this throwback, we are featuring the 2023 Educational Programs Webinar, sponsored by ACPA CGDSD. When international students arrive in the U.S. there is a new life awaiting them. In this panel, 4 current international students will be sharing their experience of how they succeed and thrive in their life in the US.

24-From Arriving to Thriving: Transitioning to U.S. Life as an International Student



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Ridwan Balogun, Laura Vaughn, Vedika Salunke, Om Prakash Bedant, Michaela Dengg


Laura Vaughn  00:00

Welcome, everyone to the ACPA Commission for Global Dimensions of Student Development Webinar: From Arriving to Thriving Transitioning to U.S. Life as an International Student. My name is Laura Vaughn and I will be the moderator for this panel. Welcome to all of our panelists and all of our participants. I hope that this panel provides a lot of good knowledge and help for everyone who is here. And again, it will be recorded and posted to the ACPA Global Dimensions website. So getting started, I would like to invite all of our panelists to please introduce themselves with your name, and a little bit about yourself, what institution you are at and what you’re doing now.


Ridwan Balogun  00:41

Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Ridwan Balogun, from Florida State University. I’m a first year PhD students originally from Nigeria, and I’m studying religion, the history and ethnography of religion. So I’m looking at studying Muslims in Nigeria as well as in the diaspora. So presently, I’m working on a Muslim minority group known as the Salafis in Lagos. So I’m still at the initial initial stage of collecting data, as well as embarking on pre filled researches. So that is what I’m doing presently.


Michaela Dengg  01:32

Hi, everyone, I can go next. My name is Michaela Dengg (she her hers). I’m currently a fourth year PhD candidate at The Ohio State University, studying Higher Education and Student Affairs. I’m originally from Germany, and I study international student experiences in the US specifically using critical whiteness studies. And my dissertation topic specifically is on white international graduate students and navigating those experiences and also disrupting whiteness, racism and discrimination within international higher education. So very excited to be here.


Om Prakash Bedant  02:06

And everyone, I’m Om Prakash Bedant. I’m from India. I’m a sixth year PhD student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Ohio State University. My research is in finding efficient algorithms for resource allocation in wireless communication domain. It’s nice to meet you.


Vedika Salunke  02:29

I guess I’m next. So good morning. Good afternoon, everyone, depending on where you’re joining us from. My name is Vedika Salunke, I am a fourth year EDD student that has a Doctorate of Education in higher education administration. My research also focuses on international student experiences, the quality experiences of international students, particularly the graduate students in non STEM degree programs. I am at my dissertation phase when I when I’m wrapping up my research study and just busy writing the manuscript so I could defend hopefully next semester. My dissertation topic is a three article dissertation, titled, “Are We Stemming the Non-stem, nderstanding the Experiences of non STEM Graduate International Students at a Regional Serving Institution.” So welcome, everyone. Thanks for joining us today.


Laura Vaughn  03:20

Great. So with that, we’ll go ahead and get started. We have a couple questions to start off with. And then we will be opening to everyone in the webinar, like who would like to also ask questions. So our first question to get started is, what was your biggest challenge after you first arrived in the US? And how did you work around it?


Michaela Dengg  03:42

I can get us kicked off. So I arrived in the summer of 2020, which was still the height of COVID, after a whole whirlwind off trying to get a visa, trying to find a flight trying to get all the vaccinations that I needed. But I made it against all odds. So I came here and then everything was virtual, which it had to be, but it was really tough to just like find connection connection in this new city that I was in and connecting with Americans connecting with other international students, because as great as online, webinars like this, are it’s very tough to you know, just organically talk to someone after a class or find someone and talk to them at a coffee shop or something like that. That has since gotten better, obviously, because other restrictions have been lifted. And we can do that again. But just in general, finding connection, remote and online can be really tough sometimes and you have to be very intentional about it.


Ridwan Balogun  04:41

Thank you for the question. I would like to contribute a lead to on that. I think in my own case, it is the issue of documentation. I arrived in December, and it was towards the end of the fall semester. So you know, a lot of things was going on then, or the school is also closing. And I have the challenge of knowing where to go, what document to produce, and some other things like that. But I was able to manage that with the assistance of my advisor. So and that is what I would advise for any international students coming in to work closely with their advisor. That can be helpful. I could remember that some of the things I was doing alone. When I get to some offices, they kind of, you know, accept, whatever I’m bringing, not even paying attention to read. But then compared to those offices, I went to with my advisor, they were very open, you know, very receptive, that someone from from among the faculty was even with me. So our advice that as an international student should try to build the relationship with the advisor right from home, that can be helpful, even if they are not going with you physically, they can always send messages send emails. I could remember at that particular time, the secretary of the department is, that will be the last issue will be coming to school for the year, and I need to prepare certain things for me, like what is the chair of the department also needs to sign on that particular document? And that was so tough that I sent the messages, no one replied. What when I conducted my advice, so i e, forwarded the same message, the same message, I forwarded to the same set of people enable to ask, they responded. And you know, you can you can on the estimate the influence your advisor can have in you navigating all these orders.


Vedika Salunke  07:23

I could go next for the biggest challenge after I first arrived in the US. So I came here for my masters back in 2018. And so for me transitioning into my PhD was much easier since I was already in the country, and I already had some experience during my master’s. So I would like to talk more about the challenges I had when I first got here for my masters. So the biggest challenge, I would say is just situationally situating ourselves, actually, to me, for me transitioning into the CEUs life and coming here. So there are many challenges. When you first come here, like how do you even commute to the university? If you’re living on off campus, then how do you go to the university, which bus routes do you take, etc, etc. So there are many, many different challenges. But the biggest I would say is just understanding the different departments in the campus, which are there to support you. So the locating and locating those students support services, just you know, getting to know stuff, because the education system in the US is so much different. So very different than where I come from from India. So that did take me a while to understand that, I would say that was the biggest challenge. And of course, the advisor does help but that I think will be more for the PhD students right for us, it’s has genuinely helped a lot, but during your undergraduate and if you’re coming here for your master’s program, then reaching out to your program coordinator or the International Services Office, that those would be your main point of contact.


Om Prakash Bedant  08:48

Thank you Vedika. I came to the US in 2017. So I didn’t have to face COVID at the beginning, but when I joined, I didn’t have very easy, so. Although there were several challenges, and like I also came here to do my Masters first then switch to PhD. So but when I came to do my master’s here at the Ohio State University, I was coming from working for like three years straight. So it was a little bit difficult to transition from the working life and then go directly to look at me again. But what I would like to say is when I came to when I first arrived in the US, as an international student from India, my biggest challenges challenge was dealing with cultural differences and a little bit of homesickness. Being in a in a new country with different life styles, customs and even food can be overwhelming to new students to work around. I challenge I kind of actively sought out international students, different organizations, I also went to some cultural events on campus, connecting with fellow international students who are also experiencing similar feelings also help ease those feelings. Additionally, I maintain in regular communication with family and friends back home. And with messages thoughts, played a significant role in easing some of that homesickness like leaving. Columbus here actually has a pretty good Indian community, but great restaurants and grocery stores, they also have a lot to feel at home away from home.


Laura Vaughn  10:49

Wonderful answers from everyone. So our next question is, how did you find a way to fit in with your classmates?


Vedika Salunke  10:56

So for me, that was always a struggle from the beginning, because coming for a master’s in accounting, there were not many interested students to my program, I think I was the only one not the only, I might not be the only one. But I was usually the only one in the course that I was registered for, because it was not a cohort system. So we got to choose pick and choose the courses we would like to register for in that particular semester. So I often was the only international person so for that, that reason, mainly, it was a struggle connecting with the peers. Yeah, because I said like, because I said, there was not like a cohort system. So that was one major issue. And the other issue was being an outsider, amongst other domestic students. And also, the Master’s in accounting program was mainly for the professionals who are already full time employees here in the States. And me as a full time student, only restricted to being a part time employee on campus that also had some, you know, those were some nuanced experiences. So that was a challenge, definitely. So finding a way to fit in with the classmates would be through the collaboration opportunities that the faculty has in the assignments, group work, getting to know each other, and if you have any questions, so just like, you know, that is how I started, I used to actively seek out those conversations, if I have some issues, or if I was, you know, struggling with some of my coursework, I used to go in and reach out to some of my folks who were in my class, like, I saw Trent at, some of them are in the same track as if we had some courses together. So I felt comfortable reaching out to those people I knew were, you know, I’ve taken classes with them before. So that would be a way to, you know, finding a way to fit in with your classmates, thank you.


Ridwan Balogun  12:38

For me, I was a, it is a matter of cultural difference. That plays out in my own case, because, you know, in Africa and particular, in Nigeria, when you first find yourself, in the four walls of the classroom, you relate with your fellow students, you know, maybe jokingly, or you are dying, to meet one another, to interact with one another. But generally in the US, you don’t just fall on people like that, and is not a bad thing. That is the way they have been trained, you know, as a stranger they need to be to reserve their way of interacting with you. So I discovered that at first, then I didn’t wait for any one of them to come to me first, before going into them, to meet with them on a one, you know, after class, I tell them my name, I try to tell them what I’ve been doing in my first and second degrees. So I tried to open up the conversation with them. So this makes them also open to me to discuss so many things I need to know about the education, the educational system here in the US. So I believe what I did, that paved the way for me was to be open, you know, to try to force conversation if you won’t do you feel someone is not trying to talk to you by so doing? They are  known you are genuine, and you are someone they can trust. So it is a way of building trust. And that was what I did. Exactly.


Om Prakash Bedant  14:43

That’s great. I can also share my experience. So here at OSU we actually have a pretty good diverse population in the engineering department. So in all the courses that I was taking the there would be several international students going through similar experience as me. So fitting in still. But classmates required proactive efforts on my part striking up conversation about lectures homeworks, and exams acted as an icebreaker for me. So we would then change exchange numbers and start to discuss homework with each other, by attended various student club meetings and campus events to meet new people and make friends and study groups. And group projects. were excellent opportunity to collaborate and establish connection with classmates, engaging in class discussions and expressing my viewpoints helped me become a become an active participant and I can make and social status seven, which kind of gradually helped me integrate in the community. Kind of what?


Michaela Dengg  16:08

Yeah, thanks, everyone. So for me, it was kind of twofold. Even though I gotten both my bachelor’s and my master’s in Germany, I had kind of always been around people who studied languages or cultural studies, or just kind of fields that were very kind of attuned to like different cultures, different languages, things like that. So coming from that to a field that is very American, higher education, student affairs is a very American field. It was kind of a twofold culture shock to be in America, and then also in a field that doesn’t have a lot of people who may they don’t speak another language, you’re maybe the first international student they’ve ever encountered. And through no fault of their own, they kind of like they just didn’t have this meta knowledge of like, Oh, do you know what this word means? So I have to be very upfront about my flaws. And they speak up in class and be like, I have no idea what you’re talking about. And this isn’t just a language barrier. It’s the theory, or I’ve never heard of this author, or I don’t know what this expression means. And that’s really scary, because it’s really, you know, it’s kind of you always feel ashamed when you have to admit, I don’t know this, I’m actually really smart. But I don’t know this one thing. But I’ve just started doing that and interrupt people. I’m like, I don’t know what that means. I don’t know this expression. I don’t know what you’re talking about. Please explain it to me. And people have been super nice and very, you know, thoughtful. After I told them, hey, I don’t have the same background, I don’t have the same kind of knowledge. In fact, they actually like explaining things. But you kind of have to jump over your own shadow and be like, I don’t know how to do this, but it’s okay to ask for help.


Laura Vaughn  17:49

Wonderful. And I think adding to that a little bit is that in the US, we definitely use a lot of like letters for things instead of spelling out what it is. So I know that is also can be pretty challenging. So don’t be afraid to speak up and go, “What is ACPA exactly?” or things like that, because it is pretty common in all fields in the US that people use letters instead of full names. For our next question. “Did you have any issues with housing when you got here? And if so, how did you deal with it?”


Ridwan Balogun  18:21

In fact, haha, I think that is one of the major issue I had when I came nearly. I came in December 17. And the school was closed in December 19. All through 19 to Jan 2,  I was searching for accommodation because a lot of things involved not just for me to get one but what is my budget? What do I want to spend on housing that determines the kind of apartment I’m looking for to so all the apartments I was saying then was too much merge above my budget. So I could not afford that and I keep it such as searching for more apartment you know, our asked people to take me to various apartments or round in the night, I will stay at home search through my laptop, try to find if I can also get some other apartment. So in in a particular night, I may have records of five seats apartment. So with a mind of getting to three or four of those places physically to make an inquiry. You know, it’s not all what you see online that you can really get the full details about So I will just have to call saying the number, then I will call x about the details and some other things like that. So that was going on from that time. So is not something easy. In the morning, if I leave home around nine, or 10, now we’ll be returning around four, or five. And purposely, the more reason we’re going out is for me to search for apartment, I haven’t settled with my school document station, because that was settled within a day or two. So other days, I’ve been out looking for accommodation. And I do want you to have the mind that you can get an apartment within your budget, if you’re realistic enough with an if you have been sincere with what your budgeting is just like someone budgeting in $200, for an apartment here in Florida, definitely you won’t get it. If you budget 300, you won’t get it. But at least if you’re still between 500, you know, for 600, then you have been a year not just speculating you really mean the business. So try to find out from people how much they’re paying in their own apartment, then on the average now come to the average that at least if if I’m going for the lesser accommodation, then I should be I should have this in my budget. So if you really work with that budget, because as international students, even some relying on the fact that when they get here and they get their first payment, that is when so these days, we make life difficult for you. I know I know what people will always go through when it comes to this, oh, can you just accommodate me for a week or two? You know, people are not willing to do that. Because this is us, you stand alone, you stand alone. And they are not, it is not something that is bad. I’m just picking up my mind, because this is a practical thing. And we just have to bring out some of the in depth theories people don’t like to discuss, but that’s the reality. Find out don’t have the mindset that you’re going to start with someone. Whoa, if you find a friend who is willing to accommodate you, that is fine. So that that will make you have more saving towards getting a good and better apartment. What if you don’t have a friend who is willing, then you should have budgeted for that event right from living alone so that you settle down and concentrate on your classes, the first week of class. You can just be moving your, your things to your new apartment, you will be disorganized all through the semester. So it’s not something that is encourage foreign international students to have the back of their mind. So once they are coming in, let them have the mind of getting an apartment. They must have raised that fund, right from all then when they get it gets your apartment settled in a week before they come commencement of lectures, then, by so doing then you will feel relaxed. You won’t be pressured in any way. That’s my own view on that.


Michaela Dengg  24:10

Thank you Ridwan. So my circumstances were very extreme being COVID and all and I only received my visa I think two weeks before I moved here. And apartment search from overseas or from any other country is very hard. And I remember doing a lot of video tours. But of course the landlords are really going to show you what looks nice and you know, they’re not going to show you that there’s a leak. They’re not going to show you the middle of the night or something like that. And so when I moved here, the first apartment I lived in was It was bad. It looked great on video and the pictures look great, but it was very loud. We’ve had windows broken in and people yelling it was not a good place to be in there was really bad but I needed something kind of on a whim within two weeks and of course the apartment that was left will be that one. I’ve since moved to a better area of town. I also know the town now that I’ve lived that when I moved to I’d already lived there for a year. It’s hard. And then as an international student, sometimes you don’t have the kind of documentation that people need, maybe you don’t have a social security number yet, maybe you don’t have a bank number, a bank account yet, it’s hard. And then you have to find ways around that. And then of course, moving is expensive and moving across continents is even more expensive. And then some of them need like, three times the rent for the deposit or something like that. So budgeting is very, very important and always budget more than you need. If you have the means I would honestly recommend just getting there early renting an Airbnb or a hostel room for like a week or two and really, just go to the apartment yourself, check out the area, check out what’s there. I didn’t have any other choice than you know, touring through videos and things like that. But it’s always so much different in person. And yeah, that’s that’s what I would recommend. But it is definitely hard. And I was fortunate enough that I lived with my partner who’s American who could provide all the documentation. But not everybody can do that. Right. So I don’t know, I just want to give like a little shout out. Like, I want to tell landlords, hey, you have to be a little more accommodating. Because it’s not that we, you know, we don’t have this documentation because we’re lazy. It’s we physically just moved here. And we can’t have this documentation just yet. So if there’s any landlords on the call, just be mindful.


Om Prakash Bedant  26:38

Yes, housing challenges are really big initially. So finding suitable accommodation and understanding the rental process in the US war was quite different from what I was used to in India, I actually also did apartment hunting from India. So here, we just wanted to come and directly go to the apartment without staying at some temporary accommodation for some days. So that was kind of to set that up was a little bit hard. Many of the renters required SSN for starting a lease. And, of course, I didn’t have as, as my other friends, they are. So connecting with the international students who had already gone through this process. And they provided their insight, which was really helpful to us, they informed us of several options, like some of the renters will not needing an assistant just start things. But they actually needed a lot of upfront, we had to form pilot groups, among other incoming international students, and then start looking for apartments together and then share the actual money that the apartment renters. Among the students can be roommates that traversing all this was a lot more stressful from India. But once you come here, then and once you actually have your SSN, then it becomes easier to you can then switch to an apartment, which is much more cheaper, and maybe is a little bit nicer than what you were saying. So that’s kind of what I did. Right after my first lease ended, we switched to an apartment was cheaper, and also somewhat closer.


Vedika Salunke  28:45

So I agree with all of the folks that mentioned their experiences. Choosing an apartment is difficult, it’s not easy, but especially if you’re looking for something off campus. I think I am fortunate now that I’m hearing your stories, I think I was fortunate enough to be able to connect with the Indian Student Association. They had a very organized system where they reach out to the incoming folks or like we reach out to them either ways, the international office recommends us reaching out to the internet to the Indian Student Association. So we reach out to them and they help us find accommodation. So we have like an apartment complex closer to the university and that’s the most sought after apartment complex not just by the international folks but also the domestic folks who are looking for something off campus. So that’s apartment complex has had like experience giving out leases to international students. So the leasing office was very familiar with how the process works with us not having the SSN bank account details and you know, the driving license or any other document that is pertaining to the US. So I actually signed up my lease when I was in India, and they move in only happen on Fridays. And since the airline tickets are cheaper during the weekdays I landed here on a weekday, so I did a cooperate with an international student who was who welcomed us like she was the, she’s a part of the Indian student organization. So we had, they welcomed me to their house for a few days before my apartment was ready for me to move in. And then once you are here, once you have that initial lease period of typically a year, you’re kind of stuck in your apartment for a year until the lease is up for renewal. So after that one year, you get to know the students, you get to know people from your own background, your own country, your own state, maybe so you know who you want to sign your new lease with you, you know who you want your roommates to be for the next year. So that is kind of how you process things once you’re here. And so my recommendation would be just to seek out those certain organizations, if they have those kinds of facilities, you could definitely reach out to them. And they have been there in that apartment complex. So they know what the issues are, they know how good the leasing office is how, you know, they know how well or how faster maintenance work orders could be could get done. And other than that, I think I also saw some Facebook groups of certain, suppose I caught her for fall 2018. So fall 2018 admits of XYZ university, you can see that and then you can, you know, look for any incoming student who’s also house hunting, so you can team up and start hunting it together. I’ve seen folks do that as well.


Ridwan Balogun  31:34

I quickly want to hit something on the issue of housing. As much agree with what other panelists have raised us concern, what I’m looking at the issue of Africans, you know, when it comes to the issue of housing here in the US, for a typical us they can do without having a pet. So this usually caused a lot of concern to Africans coming to the US for the first time living with dogs living with cats. So I want to advise, if you are not friendly, with this with cat with dogs, start learning how to you know, how to care for them how to relate with them, because actually all where you move to within the US, you will always see this playing out, it may well be within your apartment. So if you don’t like pets, so you can, you will be selective in the kind of apartment you are looking for. And that puts you even under more pressure, because those available apartment barely will you see one without pets. So if you’re not, in my own case, when I came in, I don’t know how to relate with pets, really, dogs for instance, and the only apartment I got there are two dogs within the same,  the same apartment and I have no choice, I just have to start learning how to relate with dogs, you know, coming close to them, because my fear is that dogs are going to bite. And I was so you know, I don’t want that. So, I started learning how to relate with them. And as time goes on, then they started reacting friendly to me. So then I on this stand that they are always friendly is only we that are looking at it in the other way around. Then secondly, is the issue of the agreement, the contract you assign it. Don’t just pen your signature on your lease without you reading it, you know from the beginning to the end, because once you sign it, you cannot go out of the agreement you can do otherwise. So and it is for a whole year, except if you signed for six months or so you can change it. And if you have to change it, there is penalty so you don’t want to pay that. So those are the things you should pay attention to the contract. Look at those fees. Are they the same thing you discussed? Because they will tell you you sign the lease. So you read through the papers and you you liked it that is the more reason why you approved it. So definitely look at the list. Look at the terms and conditions if you know you are not okay with it, then you find apartment that are willing to accept some of the things you want for yourself.


Laura Vaughn  35:12

Thank you for these great comments, I want to now bring us into one of our participants has sent in a question to share. So the question is: How would you reflect on your English language use in academic and non academic interactions? Did you find yourself needing additional support with specific skills when you first arrived, compared to how compared to now that you’re further along in your PhD journey.


Vedika Salunke  35:42

So that was a challenge at the beginning, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t say it wasn’t. Also, because of the accent, the different accents that international students have is difficult for others to understand what you’re saying. Also, sometimes I tend to speak fast. So that might be an issue. Another issue when you’re interacting with somebody. And also, being in Texas, Texas has its own communication style as well. So you need to familiarize yourself and give the other person a chance to get to know you and where you’re coming from as also, these English language styles, they’re different, even though you think you’re very strong in your English language proficiency. There are some certain nuances, like some phrases that you wouldn’t understand at first, when you’re here, it would take some time for you to understand those phrases and use them yourself. And so the challenge that I had with the English language use, I think, would be the academic writing, understanding, like the different writing styles, APA, MLA, Chicago, etc. Like, when you’re doing your research, or you’re writing academic papers, that is something that I had to learn, because it was not something I did in back in India. So that was definitely a challenge for me. In my PhD program, but other than that, I think the communication and interactions eventually, like you will need at least a semester, I would say, to settle in and, you know, settle in your state, settle in your university settle in your community, to feel confident to start making those approaches, interactions by yourself. You would feel shy at first, you would feel unconfident, like you won’t feel confident at first, but eventually it gets better.


Laura Vaughn  37:21

When one more of our panelists like to speak on this, and then we have another question to get to.


Michaela Dengg  37:27

Yeah, I have a couple of things. There’s so much that goes into that. So I actually I studied and learned English from an early age on and I thought I came here prepared. And communication wise, it was fine. There are some expressions that Ohioans use them like, Hmm, but it was okay. But academic writing was still a is a real challenge, because the writing style is just so different, depending on the discipline, and then comparing it to how I was taught to write it was very different from from German academics. And for as an example, as a concrete example, in German, my writing, I was discouraged to use I and to really bring in my personal voice. But now in higher education and student affairs, it’s really encouraged. And I really had to learn that. And then there’s language things. Germans use a lot of passive voice that is like a no go here. So I have to, like, not use a passive voice as much even though it sounds more academic, to me, that doesn’t mean it sounds like endemic to the field. And then there’s just words like who uses dearth, but it’s always like there is a dearth and research of blah, blah, blah. And so academic writing I still struggle with because it just doesn’t correspond with your day to day life. So it’s almost like you’re, you’re honestly kind of like learning two English. So two languages. So, when you use in everyday life with your peers and maybe with other international students, and then Academic Writing is a whole other new language that you kind of have to learn on the fly.


Ridwan Balogun  38:54

In addition to that, I think there is also the issue of spelling’s as well as some words. So, which are using American English and you can find it in British English and that is all the type of English we have been trained with, you know, you want to call the back of the car, the boat, we call when they call it trunk here, then even look at this port, for instance, what we call football is now is called football here in the US. So, so, these things can be challenging, then the the style of writing essays because this is what you do most you know you submit assignment you do this you do that. So there is need for you to study what the system requires here. And if need be, you can get some books on elementary English like Strunk and White and some other books like that, so that we do a lot in conforming with the style of writing in the US.


Vedika Salunke  40:13

Alright, and I’d like to just quickly add on that. So the university also has like writing centers that you can seek help at, we can seek out help, too. If you’re not sure about your academic writing, when you’re submitting your assignments. The writing centers are there to support those students. So take use of that take advantage of the services that are available for you. That would be one thing. And the other thing is also the email style, the writing style of the emails, when you’re writing it, it might be different how it looks in your home country, and in the US. As Ridwan mentioned, there are some English language like the British English and the US English, it’s two different styles. So writing your emails also has a different way here. But trust me, it does get better. Once you’re here, it gets better.


Laura Vaughn  40:59

All right. And thank you for adding a note that the suggestion to read articles in your field so that you can copy that writing style. That’s a really great piece of advice. Our next question that we have from the audience is, which methods of communication did your international center use that you found to be the most helpful,


Ridwan Balogun  41:21

the International Center here in it, FSU, I communicate with them via email. And they always respond to that it’s limited time, because they have a lot on doing. For instance, a person can be, you know, attached to over 100 students, and they need to attend to their specific questions. And, you know, this can be challenging for some of the people working in this unit. So I communicate with them most via email, even I’ve not used any other means to, to communicate with them before come into the US. So and they’ve always been responding. So things you can do, which I mentioned earlier, is when you are sending those emails, and you’re not getting feedback, not that you spent you you send an email today, and you expect if tomorrow, no, you are not being sincere with words you want to get. So if you want them to respond, then you can copy there is always the academic secretary in each department, you can cc the person you can cc the graduate coordinator, not even your professor, this time around, you can copy those people in those messages. And I’m very sure they will respond to any requests you want to make.


Om Prakash Bedant  43:01

I also can add some more about international international center that we have here like the State University, before coming coming to us, I mainly interact, interact with them with emails, they were actually, initially they will say that, yes, we will get back to you a few days, but within one or two days, they will actually respond to your query. And they at that time, I only wanted my F1 visa all the documents related to that. So they were really cooperative about that. And they are actually we would be giving you your documentation in due time but earlier than they might accommodate that. But once I’m here and the US then usually just directly go to the International Office of International Affairs Center that we have here. So there is in person meeting that you can attend or maybe if you would like to attend some zoom meetings, and those are also available, I believe they are really cooperated. The Office of International Affairs that we have here they are cooperated, they have provided me all the details that is regarding let’s say H4 If you are going for internship, then they will explain you what is the process that is how to change the F1 tatus, what to write and how to submit the required documents to get the documentation approved. So having an in person meeting is kind of my go to way right now. And that’s kind of what


Vedika Salunke  44:48

I’ll just quickly add to that. Yes, just going physically and meeting with them is a great way but also understanding that that unit is very busy. They’re busy helping the incoming students, they’re busy helping the students who are already here, busy helping the students who are about to graduate working on the EAD documentation. And considering my campus, it is a smaller campus A&M Corpus Christi is a smaller campus with less interested students compared to the big institutions. So the unit is small, and they have a lot of interested students. It’s a lot going on. So if they’re accepting Watkins, that’s great. But also, if you could, you know, make sure that you have an appointment. That way your time is dedicated to you, and you only and nobody would ask you to come back later. So that is your reserved time for an hour or 30 minutes, or whatever that time slot is. So just making sure you have an appointment in advance, that would be a great way to get the help you need.


Laura Vaughn  45:45

Alright, so as we are getting close to our time, one of our panelists does have a class to get to so I’m going to ask Ridwan, if you don’t mind us answering this first and then you can feel free to go to your class. But do you have any other advice that you would like to share with new international students,


Om Prakash Bedant  46:05

I can come back the first advice that I would stay open, embrace the cultural differences and be open to new experiences. It is an opportunity for personnel, what you will have to do if you want to survive here and if you want to grow here. If you want to have a great experience in during your education process here in the US, build a support network, connect with fellow international students and domestic students. Get to know your classmates and create and join actually study groups. If you want to have success in the courses that you are having, having a support system can greatly challenges that you might be thinking there are several resources that students can explore, familiarize yourself with university resources like like what we have here at the Office of International Affairs, there are legal resources available. At least at Ohio State University. There are academic support centers, like we mentioned, the writing centers, there are some careers career resources as working. Also try to communicate, if you’re struggling with something don’t hesitate to communicate with professor, advisors or friends. They are there to chat these are some of the initial advice.


Ridwan Balogun  47:42

The advice I will give to incoming international students is for them to understand the way classes are structured here in the US it is student oriented. So, they will want you to participate in class discussions. So, you don’t just have the readings you should have gone through it you know, if you have any concern any any questions to ask you come to class to discuss those things. So, it’s not a what we come in with you know, own style is for the lecturer to come in take whatever topic he wants to take, then you add it later and maybe 5/10 minutes, then if you have any question. So, here it is, the students will control the class and depending on your participation that gives you hedge you know, in the in class then that also determines your grade because some lectures we have it that participation has a considerable number of points in each of the courses, then wherever you want to cite your you want your you want to take up accommodation, try to look for I’m not saying the place you’ll be closer to the university that way but if you are not moving, if you don’t have a means of mobility, you know for the first year then it is advisable that you find somewhere very close to the school. If at all you have things going on in within the within on campus and you need to go home at night. Then you know that you can trek home without having any means of getting home. So try to watch out for these as well. Then When it comes to the issue of whether we have differentweather situation in the whole US.  What you can get here is now what you get in places like New York. So try to understand the weather. And the season you are coming also determines the kind of preparation you make in terms of clothing, and some allergies that you may be that you know you can easily be exposed to. So are these things matters a lot. When you have vaccines to make our advice, you take it from home, because once you get here, you pay more, you pay more getting those vaccines, and whereas in your own country, it may be something you get for free. So why don’t you seize that opportunity before coming? Yeah. So those are the little things I wish to give us final remark. So thank you all, thank you very much.


Michaela Dengg  51:13

Yeah, I’ll just quickly reiterate my advice from earlier, don’t be afraid to ask questions. And don’t be afraid to flat out say, I don’t know what this means I’m having troubles understanding, I can’t cope. It’s not a sign of, you know, failure or being embarrassed. It’s really not, it’s really a lot braver to speak up and admit that you don’t know because you’re very smart in other ways. And just because the language or the culture here is what you’re struggling with. It’s not a reflection of you and your, you know, your brains and what you know, and things and your talents. Just be very upfront with what you don’t know. And people are very happy, happy to help you.


Vedika Salunke  51:50

Yeah, I agree with Michaela. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support. And also, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, you already did that when you chose to move to another country for your higher education. So step out and make those connections with domestic students as well. Don’t stick together in the same community of your cultural backgrounds. That is your comfort zone. I agree that but also stepping out of your comfort zone would help you in the longer run in the US, particularly if you’re planning on staying here after your graduation. So that would help. And also, if you’re a master’s student, then before you know it, you’re in your last semester ready to graduate. So also take time to develop your professional skills that would help you in your career search and seek help, especially in Asian countries. Those cultures have a stigma surrounding mental health support. So don’t be afraid to seek out mental health support because that is important. A lot goes on when you’re coming here for your education. You’re away from your family, you’re away from most of the support system. So seeking that mental health is really important. Yeah, those would be my final piece of advice for the international students who are incoming.


Laura Vaughn  53:05

Well, thank you so much. Thank you to everyone who attended this session. All of the panelists, if they’re willing to share their email, we’ll put it in the chat for you to reach out to us with any other questions that perhaps you did not have answered today. So, again, please reach out to us. I hope you enjoyed the webinar and I’m going to stop recording.