Among more than 2,000 international students from over 100 countries and territories, Ifeoma Anyaoha, a graduate student in business analytics and finance from Nigeria, is set apart by her role as a Life in Iowa program assistant.
Provided by International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) of the UI International Programs, Life in Iowa is a program designed to help international students adjust to life and the academic system at the University of Iowa. Life in Iowa provides cultural events to help international students learn about American holidays and customs. The program also offers academic sessions about topics such as time management and motivation building, and a career series that helps international students prepare for life after college with session titles such as How to Network Professionally and Work Visa Options after Graduation.
Every academic year, Life in Iowa hires an international graduate student to work as a program assistant, and Ifeoma was thrilled to be selected for this role.
According to Shuhui Lin, coordinator for international student support and engagement, Ifeoma’s position is crucial to the operation of Life in Iowa, as it involves planning and executing all the program events and creating the community update newsletters. “Ifeoma’s perspective as an international student can contribute to tailoring the events and messages to better meet international students’ needs. Her other responsibilities include marketing and communications, data management, assistance on other ISSS programs, and a lot more,” Lin says.
“Being a Life in Iowa assistant has really helped me in settling in and adjusting better and faster,” Ifeoma shares. “I get to meet other international students who are going through or have gone through what I am going through now,
which is a learning point for me. Also, attending sessions as a moderator is beneficial to me when experiencing cultural change.”
While transitioning into a new culture smoothly, Ifeoma finds it challenging to deal with homesickness as the food, weather, and environment in Iowa are quite different from those in her homeland in Nigeria. “ I miss Nigerian food big time and the weather here is a whole thing on its own,” she says jokingly.
Speaking of advice for prospective international students considering the UI, Ifeoma believes the UI is a good school to attend, as she feels the instructors, resources, campus environment, and culture are quite impressive. “I'm in awe of this school and how organized everything is. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to study here. I wouldn't trade it for the world.”