The University of Iowa

UI amps up international student orientation

August 19th, 2011

By Chastity Dillard, The Daily Iowan

Sitting at her Mayflower kitchen table, adorned with a Hawkeye-symbol tablecloth, Yoon Kyung Lee, laughs while chatting with new friend, Effy Lee.

Both South Korean, the 20-year-olds instantly shared a bond as newly arriving international students for the fall semester.

“It’s not my first time coming to the U.S.,” Yoon Lee said, who at age 15 was a foreign-exchange student in Texas, “so adjusting here isn’t a big deal for me. The time difference is worse.”

Each year, the University of Iowa attracts more and more students from abroad and officials expect they’ll stick to that trend when final enrollment numbers are tallied this year.

“We may be down or holding our own at the graduate level and may have a little more at the undergraduate,” said Scott King, the director of International Students and Scholars.

King said he won’t know exact numbers until registration is completed, but this year, between 550 and 600 students showed up for the revamped orientation.

Last year’s record-breaking enrollment of both domestic and international freshmen prompted International Programs officials to rework procedures for helping new students adjust to university culture.

“The major thing we did this fall was revamp the orientation procedure so everything would revolve around the day the students met their academic advisers,” King said. “It has worked really well.”

Orientation was broken into five schedules, allowing for smaller group sessions and time efficiency.

“We are just adopting what the university has been doing for years,” King said. “Getting students in a smaller group so that they feel connected.”

Activities on the new orientation schedules include seminars explaining English Second Language requirements, resources, and personal safety. The new program also features numerous special-interest programs ranging from food, idioms, and slang to time management and how to get involved at the UI.

Effy Lee, a Burge resident, is happy about her choice to come to the Iowa.

“Iowa is very comfortable compared with other states,” said Lee, who arrived five days ago. “Many people are very kind to me.”

King said he is also very happy with the new OnIowa program for incoming freshmen and what it will mean for international students.

“One of the concerns is trying to develop the integration between international and domestic students,” he said, and the new program will encourage this on both sides. “I think it will help. It’s really good timing and very valuable for students.”

Happy with all the new choices for clubs and opportunities to be involved with the UI culture, Yoon Lee is only unhappy about one thing — no football tickets, a plight a lot of students have face with the increase in the number of students.

“I hope I can get football tickets next year,” she said with a smile.