Each semester, Mizzou welcomes new international students with a 2-day orientation hosted by the International Center. Speakers and activities provide students the opportunity to get to know the university, the city of Columbia, as well as each other. For the Fall 2014 semester, over 500 incoming graduate and undergraduate students attended orientation.
The International Student Orientation is an essential program for incoming students to attend. Advisers and guest speakers are brought in not only to discuss student-related topics, but also provide them with additional resources should they have further questions or need assistance. Students should come to orientation expecting to learn about academic advising, how to get health insurance, student health and safety, tips for adjusting to life in the US, and other information that will make new students’ transition onto campus easier. Brazilian agricultural student, Jose Daniel chose Mizzou so he could “…learn at one of the best universities in the United States,” has benefited tremendously from orientation. “International student orientation was very helpful! I learned about classes, how to study, and what to do with my free time. Besides that, they taught us how to find places and help on campus.”
Students like Jose, also have the opportunity to participate in workshops that teach everything from finding student housing and buying a car to learning study strategies that can help them succeed in classes. International academic adviser Kristen Albrecht said, “We want students to be able to leave knowing how the MU system works. And have the resources to succeed on campus”.
Kristen also noted how encouraging students to get to know one another and build friendships are an important focus of orientation. And Jose wasted no time jumping in and making friends right away, “In my first day at Mizzou, I went to the columns with two other Brazilian guys I met. Since then, this university is my favorite place in the world!” Jose credited his new friends and wonderful adviser as helping him adjust to life in the US.
All students are broken down into smaller groups, making it easier to talk and get to know one another. These small groups explore campus, use public transportation to go on shopping trips to Wal-Mart, and participate in other activities and workshops together. “Students are amazed at how big things are, like Wal-Mart, buses, packages. They are also impressed by all the green space and trees on Mizzou’s campus”, Kristen said on what students notice on their excursions. It’s beneficial because during these excursions, students learn more about Mizzou and how to successfully navigate the campus and Columbia community while building friendships with other students.
To wrap up the 2-day orientation, students and their newly found friends attend Picnic in the Park where they have water balloon fights, play games, socialize, and eat lots and lots of food. It’s a great time and the perfect way to kick off their college life as Mizzou Tigers!
And it may only be the fourth week of classes, but new international students are settling into their routine and like Jose, fitting in a fair share of fun and looking forward to the future, “I am very impressed [with Mizzou]. I’ve met a lot of people from different countries.” For fun, Jose plans on taking in more Mizzou sporting events, a Cardinals baseball game, and trips to Florida and California. But as for the prospective opportunities that brought him here, he says, “I was looking for good American universities of agriculture. That’s why I came here. I’m looking for opportunities to meet professors and professionals, improve my resume, and find a good academic training program for summer break.” We are thrilled to see all the endeavors Jose and our newly arrived students will go on! Welcome to the Mizzou Tiger Family!