This winter break will be different for me — it will be the first time I’ll spend it in the United States. Because of this, I suddenly realized it would also be my first American Christmas, and I have no idea what to expect. In China, we also celebrate Christmas but not like how most Americans celebrate.

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Anna Kolpakova has turned baking into a hobby since she moved to Iowa City in June with her Czech husband David Pisa, who is completing postdoctoral research in physics at the University of Iowa. She spends at least one afternoon a week making cakes, having started baking “just for fun” and to alleviate boredom, she said. The boredom comes with her status as the dependent of a visiting scholar, and other temporary Iowans at the state’s public universities are dealing the same problem.

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Social networks play a large role in the life of a college student. For me specifically, I have found my kindergarten friends through Chinese social networks, researched information on universities through Twitter, and even found an apartment through Facebook. On American social networks, people can say what they want and share opinions on various topics without being constrained. But in China, not all words can be said because the government controls our freedom of speech.

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Bridges International will host a Christmas party for all UI students on Friday at the Asian Pacific American Cultural Center to introduce American traditions to all who attend. The group is part of Iowa City for Campus Crusade for Christ’s international ministry.

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In 1885, Jin Yunmei, a young woman from China, received her medical degree from the Women’s Medical College of the New York Infirmary, becoming the first female Chinese on record to have a U.S. education. It was a time when few Chinese men had the opportunity to study abroad, while the overwhelming majority of women remained uneducated. China is now the world’s second largest economy. Its students now count for the largest population of international students in America. Plus, there are far more Chinese females on U.S. campuses.

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University of Iowa junior Xinran Gu hasn’t spent time with her parents since June, and the idea of seeing them over winter break helps her push through finals week. “I feel very excited because they have never traveled to America, and this will be their first time,” she said. “They have a lot of questions … and they want to explore more.”

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This article takes a look at three UI student experiences through Continental Crossings, an organization that was formed in 2006 by a group of UI civil engineering students who wanted to combine academics with a desire to assist communities in developing countries. With the help of a nonprofit organization called Bridges to Prosperity (B2P), the student group designs and builds pedestrian bridges, the first of which was constructed in 2007 in Peru. UI was the first of several universities to partner with Bridges to Prosperity.

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If you’ve studied abroad through the University of Iowa sometime in the past 30 years, there’s a good chance you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Maria Hope. She’s been with Study Abroad at the UI since its inception in the early 1980s, first in a clerical position and eventually as the university’s first, and for many years only, study abroad advisor. Hope recently retired from the UI after more than three decades of helping students identify and achieve their study abroad goals. In this article she reflects on her career and gives advice to future students on getting the most out of their international experience.

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Did you have a wonderful Thanksgiving break? Did you eat well, rest well, and study well? For most American students, it seemed as if all of you went back home to your families to enjoy the annual feast, with turkey, mashed potatoes, and delicious pies. But most international students, including me, prefer to travel around the United States, even some of the world, because a 12-hour flight back home is kind of expensive.

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Innovation has been a hallmark of American education since at least the time of Thomas Jefferson. The nature of that education, including who had access to it, has changed significantly during the last two centuries and continues to evolve today. The definition and achievement of educational excellence in higher education is on the cusp of potentially dramatic transformation, and the University of Iowa has become a leader in creating and assessing a number of innovative approaches to undergraduate teaching and learning.

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