The University of Iowa

Settling into American life: Community welcomes UI international students

January 15th, 2011

Iowa City Press-Citizen

International students who arrived at the University of Iowa last week got a rich taste of American culture Wednesday evening as they spun their partners and promenaded around the community room at the Robert A. Lee Recreation Center.

More than 75 students took part in the dinner and square dance event for new students sponsored by Hills Bank.

Students laughed and joked around with each other and members of the Ralston Creek Country Dancers who helped lead the hoedown.

Wednesday’s dance was just one of many events throughout the week to help students interact with one another and become more integrated into the community.

There will be about 150 new international students at UI for the spring semester that begins Tuesday, more than in past years, said Scott King, assistant dean of international programs at UI.

“It’s higher than we’ve had in any other previous spring, which is not insignificant obviously,” King said.

About 2,900 international students were enrolled at UI for the fall semester, and King said he expects to see about the same amount in the spring. Many foreign students start in the spring because it fits in well with their education track at home, he said.

“It really works well with a lot of other countries’ academic calendars,” King said. “In a lot of countries, the school year runs from February or March through the end of the year.”

On Wednesday, students played games like Mingle Bingo, and answered ice breaker questions to win raffle prizes.

Yiling Kuo, 22, of China, attended the square dance with some new friends.

Kuo said she learned about UI on a website for actuary science students. She chose to come here because of the school’s reputation and its location.

“I like the snow,” she said. “I knew I wanted to move to the northern part of America.”

Robert Zhao, 20, of China, was not nearly as excited about the weather, but said he’s excited to be in Iowa City.

“I think it’s great here, but the weather is too cold,” he said.

Zhao, a business major, first learned about UI when he attended a three-week summer camp here during high school.

“I knew I wanted to come back,” he said.