University of Iowa

Activities for Spouses

The spouses--wives or husbands--of foreign students and scholars are sometimes discouraged by the fact that their spouse is so busy, and that they are left alone for such long hours with nothing to do. This can be an unpleasant situation for everyone concerned. It can be improved somewhat if the spouse participates in activities of his/her own and meets people. It is quite possible for a spouse who can manage some English and who is interested and outgoing to become extremely involved in educational and social activities in Iowa City. Here are some possibilities:

International Women's Club

The International Women’s Club (IWC) is a group of women from around the world who meet to share activities that promote intercultural friendships and understanding. Founded over fifty years ago, group activities include: English classes, coffees, cooking classes, and craft sessions; excursions to local cultural events; and special group holiday celebrations. If you are interested in joining the club, please see for information on International Women’s Club.

Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn Street, 319-356-5200,

Free movies, records, videotapes, and a good selection of books (including some books in languages other than English).

English Classes for Spouses

Iowa Intensive English Program

International Women’s Club

Less formal English classes are available through the International Women’s Club.

Kirkwood Community College Free ESL Program

Kirkwood Community College provides a free informal English language program. 

The Language Media Center (LMC)

Media Library has approximately 3000 titles in the instructional materials collection in both analog and digital formats. In addition, the library has print ancillaries in the form of texts, workbooks and transcripts for  some titles.  The collection covers a wide range of subjects including language skills, music, literature, art, cultural history and civilization. The languages represented are American Sign Language, Chinese, Czech, English and English as a Second Language, Filipino, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, and Zulu. The LMC’s library holdings are cataloged in a computer database, which is updated often and may be searched from the LMC website. It is located in 120 Phillips Hall. The Media Center graciously assists students' spouses who want to use the tapes available there even if the spouse is not a student him/herself. It is necessary, though, that the spouse go when the center is not busy. It is a good idea to visit the Media Center's director or the supervisor on duty to make arrangements.

Television is a good aid to learning English. Children's programs such as "Sesame Street" on PBS are especially helpful for beginners.

Domestic Abuse

In the United States, and more so in Iowa than in some other states, domestic abuse (or “domestic violence”) is a crime. Laws aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence are strictly enforced in Iowa City and on the university campus. If a couple is fighting and the police come to the scene and find evidence of assault (such as a cut, bruise, or scratch), they are required to arrest the attacker and take him or her to jail for the night. In the morning, after appearing before a judge who sets the date for a trial, the attacker is set free. A "no contact" order is put in place until the trial. The order forbids the attacker from returning home, seeing, talking to, or having any contact with the victim.

Women who are victims of domestic violence may stay temporarily at the Domestic Violence Intervention Project (DVIP), which is a "safe house" in a secret location. It is staffed by counselors who can help the woman and her children (if she has any) remain free of their dangerous situation and make decisions about the future.

The stresses of being a student family in a foreign country can sometimes lead to family violence, and wives of foreign students sometimes become victims of domestic abuse. Any woman who feels that she is being victimized by her husband or a person with whom she is living should seek help immediately. Staff are on duty at the DVIP (319-351-1043, or 1-800-373-1043) 24 hours a day. Advisers at the ISSS (319-335-0335), the RVAP (Rape Victim Advocacy Program, 319-335-6000, or 24-hour hotline 800-228-1625), and the WRAC (Women's Resource and Action Center, 319-335-1486) are committed to helping both foreign student wives and foreign student husbands who find themselves in abusive situations.