International Educator - November/December 2011 - 46

FOREIGN STudENT

Affairs

By Karen doss Bowman

Easing the Transition
Building academic Support for International graduate Students

a

S AN ENGLISH MAJOR IN HER NATIVE CHINA, Shuang Wu felt fully prepared to start graduate school in the United States in 2000. Ever the tenacious student, Wu excelled in her studies in her home country, mastering written and spoken English. But when she enrolled in her first U.S. graduate program in new York, Wu realized adjusting to a new culture wouldn’t be easy as she thought.
“I don’t think I ever had a severe language barrier because I studied English hard before I came to the United States—but it’s very different when you’re totally immersed in an English environment,” Wu says. “The lack of community was a big issue for me because graduate students typically live off campus. So I had no sense of community [in those early months].” Like Wu, many international graduate students— especially those studying in the U.S. for the first time—face numerous academic and cultural challenges. While adjusting to a foreign culture, sometimes struggling to communicate in English, they often have to navigate unfamiliar tasks such as renting apartments, getting driver’s licenses or social security numbers, and setting up phone and Internet service. And international graduate students often have spouses and children who come with them and face their own cultural adjustments. In the United States, these students also must adhere to strict immigration regulations while striving to succeed academically. Understanding and adapting to the U.S. educational system was one of the most difficult challenges Wu faced when she first came to the United States. Oftentimes, she didn’t want to bother her professors with her own concerns, feeling that her questions might be an intrusion for busy faculty members immersed in their own research projects. “You have to maintain a strong and positive relationship with faculty, but you can’t bother them too much,” she observes. “It’s an intricate balance, and it doesn’t come naturally. Someone needs to tell you about these kinds of situations, so to navigate successfully you need an advocate or adviser. Part of the graduate experience is to figure out the unwritten rules for success.” Though Wu faced challenges, she sped through her academic programs, earning her master’s degree in 2002 and her doctorate in 2005. now she’s a member of the global learning faculty at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California, and is passionate about helping other international graduate students adjust to academic life in the United States. “I would like to see international graduate students have a positive graduate experience in areas that could have been more fulfilling for myself,” says Wu, who did find support and encouragement from a writing group she formed with fellow doctoral students. “I’m not sure I fully overcame the difficulties I experienced, but I just focused on getting my degree, and I tolerated the fact that there wasn’t a strong community of support and there were many cultural adjustments I had to make.” International offices at many colleges and universities provide an array of support services designed to help international graduate students adjust to the U.S. higher education system and American lifestyle. These departments help international graduate students make connections across campus—with faculty, peers, and other resources. And when necessary, they act as international students’ advocates by educating faculty and administrators about the difficulties international students encounter and what kind of assistance they may need. “Our mission is to help our students to be successful by helping them to meet their educational goals,” says Denise Medeiros, assistant director of the International Student and Scholar Office at the University of north

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InternatIonal educator N O V + D E C .1 1



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of International Educator - November/December 2011

International Educator - November/December 2011
Contents
From the Editors
In Brief
Cultivating Branch Campuses
India Opens Its Doors— Cautiously
A Quest to Enhance Quality Spurs Global Learning
Foreign Student Affairs
A View From Out Here
Forum
In Focus
Health and Insurance Supplement
Supplement: Danger Ahead!
Supplement: Their Baggage Goes, Too
Supplement: Directory of Insurance Providers, Services, and Products
International Educator - November/December 2011 - International Educator - November/December 2011
International Educator - November/December 2011 - Cover2
International Educator - November/December 2011 - Contents
International Educator - November/December 2011 - From the Editors
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 3
International Educator - November/December 2011 - In Brief
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 5
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 6
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 7
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 8
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 9
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 10
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 11
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 12
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 13
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 14
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 15
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 16
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 17
International Educator - November/December 2011 - Cultivating Branch Campuses
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 19
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 20
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 21
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 22
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 23
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 24
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 25
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 26
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 27
International Educator - November/December 2011 - India Opens Its Doors— Cautiously
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 29
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 30
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 31
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 32
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 33
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 34
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 35
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 36
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 37
International Educator - November/December 2011 - A Quest to Enhance Quality Spurs Global Learning
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 39
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 40
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 41
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 42
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 43
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 44
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 45
International Educator - November/December 2011 - Foreign Student Affairs
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 47
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 48
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 49
International Educator - November/December 2011 - A View From Out Here
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 51
International Educator - November/December 2011 - Forum
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 53
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 54
International Educator - November/December 2011 - 55
International Educator - November/December 2011 - In Focus
International Educator - November/December 2011 - Cover3
International Educator - November/December 2011 - Cover4
International Educator - November/December 2011 - Health and Insurance Supplement
International Educator - November/December 2011 - SCover2
International Educator - November/December 2011 - Supplement: Danger Ahead!
International Educator - November/December 2011 - S2
International Educator - November/December 2011 - S3
International Educator - November/December 2011 - S4
International Educator - November/December 2011 - S5
International Educator - November/December 2011 - S6
International Educator - November/December 2011 - S7
International Educator - November/December 2011 - S8
International Educator - November/December 2011 - S9
International Educator - November/December 2011 - S10
International Educator - November/December 2011 - Supplement: Their Baggage Goes, Too
International Educator - November/December 2011 - S12
International Educator - November/December 2011 - S13
International Educator - November/December 2011 - S14
International Educator - November/December 2011 - S15
International Educator - November/December 2011 - S16
International Educator - November/December 2011 - Supplement: Directory of Insurance Providers, Services, and Products
International Educator - November/December 2011 - S18
International Educator - November/December 2011 - S19
International Educator - November/December 2011 - S20
International Educator - November/December 2011 - S21
International Educator - November/December 2011 - S22
International Educator - November/December 2011 - S23
International Educator - November/December 2011 - S24
International Educator - November/December 2011 - SCover3
International Educator - November/December 2011 - SCover4
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