BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — The sun was shining. Live jazz music floated out from a red-and-white striped tent behind the DeVault Alumni Center. Students sat in groups and pairs, taking pictures and eating ice cream.
The international student orientation ice cream social had all the elements of the picturesque campus Indiana University is often praised for, and for many of the students in attendance, pictures were the only way they’d seen the campus before.
Many international students have never been to an American university and chose IU after seeing only pictures. That’s the opposite of domestic students, who often take campus tours as high school students, said Dennis Groth, vice provost for undergraduate education.
Jeff Xie, who came to IU from Beijing, China, said he’d been to the United States before, but never to Bloomington.
“Bloomington is really beautiful,” he told The Herald-Times (http://bit.ly/1sIJIM4 ).
Xie added that there is no smog, fewer people, fewer cars and not as many tall buildings as in Beijing.
While most domestic students come for orientation during June and July, international students come for orientation in the days leading up to Welcome Week and the start of classes. International student orientation began earlier this month and continues until Wednesday.
Domestic students do orientation in a group, but for international students, everything is tailored to them individually, because they have to do specific things, such as have all their documents verified, said Rendy Schrader, director of student and scholar advising at the Office of International Services.
New this year at international orientation is a reception just for graduate students and a “students-only” session where students can meet and talk to current students to ask questions, she said.
Roughly 1,600 new international students are expected at IU-Bloomington for the 2014-15 school year, according to university data. The most popular country of origin is China, with 679 students. It’s followed distantly by India with 233 and then South Korea with 158 students.
This year, the class is about 25 percent more diverse in terms of nationalities than in the past, Schrader said. Plus this year, many Chinese students had an added opportunity to talk with IU students and administrators closer to home in a new program called IU2U.
Last month, a group of IU representatives traveled to Beijing for information sessions with incoming Chinese students and their parents. For the students who participated, it made all the difference and increased their confidence, Schrader said. She said several students recognized her from IU2U and said hi at orientation.
Xie attended one of the IU2U sessions and said it helped him be more confident. Plus, he said, he had time to meet other Chinese students coming to IU as well as American students.
“It was a good day to have fun,” Xie said.
For all international students, orientation is a time to explore campus and meet each other before Welcome Week starts.
Adnan Lakdawala said he came to IU to study business along with a friend from Pakistan. He said the campus is large, but orientation helped him learn some of the buildings, and he plans to tour more of the campus before classes start.
Xie, who came to IU to study chemistry, said he was impressed with the size of the Wells Library. He said he was excited to start classes at IU.
“It’s a really good place to be,” he said.
Information from: The Herald Times, http://www.heraldtimesonline.com