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University of Iowa News Release

 

Aug. 10, 2007

Photos: New University of Iowa international students took part in orientation activities, including information sessions and social activities, such as square dancing and luncheons, as a part of the UI Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) fall orientation. This year OISS is piloting a Welcome Center as part of orientation to help ease the transition in even more ways for new international students.

UI Begins International Student Orientation With New Pilot Welcome Center

Coming to a new country can be confusing and overwhelming for international students.

To help ease the transition for the more than 400 new international students arriving on the University of Iowa campus this fall, staff members with the UI Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) are piloting a welcome center that will be open during the first few weekends in August when OISS is not open.

"The welcome center has made a difference to the students who have used it so far," said Scott King, OISS director. "Several came last weekend and seemed to benefit from it. We provide lots of information, but more important, there is someone here to talk to. It's that connection that the students really benefit from."

The welcome center, located in International Programs Commons at 1117 University Capitol Centre (UCC), is designed to be a place where students can get information about the university and community, access the Internet to let family and friends know they have arrived safely, and ask questions of volunteers. The welcome center opened Saturday, Aug. 4 and will continue to serve international students and scholars from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 11 and Saturday, Aug. 18 and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 12 and Sunday, Aug. 19. The center is staffed completely by student and community volunteers.

King said that in the future, OISS staff would like to have the center open evenings during the week at the beginning of the semester, when new students are arriving.

In addition to the welcome center, new international students will have assistance in adjusting to life in a new culture by participating in orientation, which lasts from Tuesday, Aug. 14 through Friday, Aug. 24. They will spend those two weeks learning about Iowa City, observing the community's wide spectrum of cultural activities, and discovering more about the university's services and resources.

Orientation activities will begin Tuesday, Aug. 14 with an orientation check-in at UCC. Campus tours and an opportunity to obtain university IDs will follow. Planned activities range from routine information sessions, such as immigration regulations and immunizations, to programs such as "Iowa Weather and You" and English Proficiency Examinations. Students can also take part in special celebrations such as a trip to the Iowa State Fair sponsored by Geneva Campus Ministries; square dancing at Old Brick Church Thursday, Aug. 16; and the Friends of International Students 36th anniversary picnic Saturday, Aug. 25.

New international students are also invited to attend a welcome brunch at the Iowa Memorial Union on Wednesday, Aug. 15, and a myriad of events sponsored by area businesses and organizations.

For more information or a complete schedule of orientation activities, resources and programs, visit the OISS website at: http://intl-programs.uiowa.edu/oiss/orientation.html.

Last year, 425 new international students came to the university, an increase from 384 in the fall of 2005. International students at the University of Iowa currently represent 111 different countries, ranging from China and India to Zambia and Iceland.

The top areas of study pursued by UI international students include the MBA program, chemistry, computer science, civil and environmental engineering, pre-business and actuarial science. UI International students make up 6.7 percent of the student population, with 81 percent as graduate or professional students and 19 percent as undergraduates.

OISS is part of UI International Programs, which enables UI students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity and give all university constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information, visit http://intl-programs.uiowa.edu/ or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the UI Office of the Provost.

For a complete calendar of international student orientation events, or to arrange an interview with new international students, call Kelli Andresen at 319-335-2026.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Scott King, 319-335-0335, scott-king@uiowa.edu; Kelli Andresen, International Programs, 319-335-2026, kelli-andresen@uiowa.edu; Writer: Laura Reeder