Campus internationalization

Internationalization is both an internal and external phenomenon for higher education institutions.  Because of our globalized world economy and the increase in international opportunities, this impacts everyone no matter their interests of study and research.  Whether or not you study physics, education, law, business, or psychology, our worlds are becoming more and more international.  That is why it is important to consider how international your institution is when deciding where to attend.

IU is international.  Along with its international strategic plan and its new School of Global and International Studies, IU’s alumni reach all corners of the world.  The programs here allow for study, research, and travel abroad to learn about your area of discipline in another country.  Experiences like these can only help you in your pursuit for a job.

Class discussion and the courage to speak up…

Speaking up in class discussions is somehow challenging for some people especially for international students. Being an international student, I personally feel this pain and I think some other foreign students might share the same feeling. Why? Among the class of all American students, I am the only one international student. What if I say something wrong? What if the professor does not understand my English and ask me to explain my opinions again? What if my classmates judge my answer when they may know the topic better than me given their longer working experiences? I need a little more time to organize my ideas before giving the valid answer, but when I am ready to answer, other students have already answered…I had these thoughts in the first few weeks of transition to the master program at IU. Should I continue staying on the safe side- saying nothing even though I might have lots of points in my mind 🙂 Here is what I think after several first weeks of  “adaptation” 😉

Very often, we don’t speak up because we worry of being judged. But actually, there is nothing wrong with our point of view. The fact that you are an international student make you very unique…You might see problems from different prospectives and people really expect you to share your own thoughts no mater what. Also, you never know it could be the right answer. As long as you tried, the answer might be right. We all come to class to learn in the end. We learn from professors and we learn from each other. Most important, we are all equal and we are all IU student no matter where we are from.  And active participation in class help yourself learn a lot too. So, it is totally fine if you don’t think you want to contribute your ideas when you are not ready enough. For those who want to push yourself a little bit in class discussions, please feel free to speak up 🙂



Adjust yourself to a New Culture

Getting admission from IU and moving to IU for your selected program is a great journey ever for any international student- I am not an exception ☺ Hurayyyyyyyyyyyyy, the competitive application process finally ends! Bloomington here I come! IU here I come ☺ That’s SO VERY exiting! To make your IU experiences more rewarding, I would bring about some issues of culture shock to your attention – international students.

From my personal experiences, I don’t meet with culture shock socially as everyone respects who I am and where I am from. I am very happy to be a part of a diverse IU community where students come from all 50 states and more than 130 countries. IU is a culturally rich and ethnically diverse campus. However, I was shocked in the first few days attending classes in the first school week and I would love to share some of these experiences with international students.

The first challenge is the language barrier. No matter how good your English is, you might find it very hard to fully catch up what the professor lectures in class in the first few days/weeks. You are also given tons of homework, assignments, readings that are all in English while your native language is not English. Lame! If only all is written in your native language, life would be so much easier ☺ But don’t worry too much about it. Part of the experience in IU is for you to improve your English. What an incredible opportunity! So, just take it easy…think of it this way: when you comeback to your home country, everyone will admire your improved English 😉

Second, the class is so interactive, especially between professors and students. While one-way lecture style is still popular in some Asian countries, I believe many Asian students including me are not well trained to actively engage in class discussions. I have the ideas, they are very clear and well structured…But those ideas are just all in my mind and I don’t feel comfortable speaking up. This is really frustrating!!! And, if you are ever in this situation, just please don’t push yourself too hard… Just be nice to yourself, naturally you will learn how to engage effectively in the lecture.

Third, the lecture contents for some classes are very “American”. For instance; one of the lectures for my nonprofit management class is about American election and its effects on NGOs. I have some ideas about American election, but I am sure I am way behind American students as it comes to this topic. Also, have you ever feel dumb when the whole class laughs at the professors’ joke but you don’t know what’s going on? I had that experiences several times ☺ But, you certainly can ask the Professor about the joke after class if you really want to know what it is about…And aren’t the “American based” lectures also helpful for us to learn more about America? ☺

Only several personal experiences for sharing, but I am sure you will do great. IU offers so many excellent student support services that are there to help you through all the adaptation stages. Just accept the differences, have an open mind and adjust yourself to adapt with the new environment. These will help to make IU an incredible home away from home. Below you would find very helpful advice from IU Office of International Services:

Ways to Minimize the Impact of Culture Shock:
• Look for logical reasons for things in the host culture that seem different. Relax your grip on your own culture.
• Resist “looking down on” or making jokes and comments about the host culture. Avoid others who take part in such derogatory remarks.
• Talk about your feelings with a sympathetic and understanding friend or see a Foreign Student Advisor in the Office of International Services to talk about your feelings.
• When you hear yourself making negative judgments or generalizations, stop and try to view the situation objectively—without value judgments.
• Take care of your physical health. Eat nutritious foods, get enough sleep, and, most importantly, get some exercise every day (take a regular walk if nothing else).

Deena R. Levine and Mara B. Adelman, Office of International Service, accessed 12/2012

Application for graduate school admission checklist

Each graduate program has different admission requirements. General requirements for graduate school admission often includes the follows:
1. GRE
2. Statement of Purpose
3. Resume
4. Letter of Recommendations.
5. Supporting documents (official transcripts, …)

For School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) where I am pursuing the Master of Public Affairs, below is the admission checklist for your reference.

Application Checklist:
1. Online Indiana University Graduate Application (eApp) and application fee ($55, $65 for international students).
2. One official transcript – from each college attended, regardless of if degree was conferred. (If you attended Indiana University, you need not submit a transcript)
3. Three letters of recommendation – preferably from faculty members.
4. GRE or GMAT scores. Official scores should be sent directly from ETS
5. TOEFL or IELTS scores – for international students. Official scores should be sent directly from ETS. SPEA baseline scores for admission consideration are 96 (TOEFL) and 7.0 (IELTS).
a. If you have a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. institution, this requirement is waived.
6. Personal Statement:  Describe your most important accomplishments and how they prepared you for graduate study at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Outline carefully your current goals and professional plans. Explain your reasons for selecting the School of Public and Environmental Affairs
7. Resume or CV

Each part of application checklist has the same weight in defining your eligibility for the program. For my personal case, I put special focus on my personal statement which clearly states what I can contribute for the society given the opportunity to pursue the program.

For international students, the admission process often takes a little longer as you need to prepare for the visa application process upon getting admission from your program (note that the application process starts earlier for international students…You have a different application deadline). Once you are admitted from the graduate program, the Office of International Studies (OIS) will send an official invitation letter and necessary documents for you to apply for student visa. This is another step to take since you need to live up all the requirements of the local US embassy to obtain a student visa. Depending on your case, you will be granted an appropriate visa like F1, J1. And then, off you go …Get ready to exploit all the best IU offers to you 🙂