This past fall, the International Learning Strategies course was offered for the first time. The course, taught by academic adviser Nicholas Holladay and international student services coordinator Callie Fleming, discusses strategies and tools new international students can use to make their transition onto campus and life in America easier. “The purpose of the learning strategies course for international students is to address the needs and adjustment issues dealt with specifically by the international student population when they arrive on MU’s campus,” Callie said, “We cover topics of cultural adjustment and topics that that are covered in other learning strategy courses…but can provide specific information helpful to the new international student population”. Learning through reading and listening are given major consideration, as are the corollary skills of vocabulary expansion, studying, note taking, and cultural adjustment.
It also provides a great opportunity to meet and mingle with students from different countries in an environment that fosters learning inside and outside the classroom. In class, students participate in discussions about weekly assignments and their experiences so far. Islam, a freshman electrical engineering student from Cairo said, “This is a class for international students, like I would not take this class in Egypt.” And that’s because the class is solely focused on international students and ensuring that they have the resources and tools to make sure they can make the most of their time as a student. “It was fun for me to explain things as simple as note-taking or classroom etiquette and receive feedback that the students are getting new information they have never gotten before,” Callie said. That is largely what makes this class so effective, it acknowledges the subtle differences in things, like note-taking, that can impact students’ performance in their other classes.
However, what really sets this course apart is that getting to know people outside the class is just as important as getting to know people inside the class. In addition to attending campus and community events, one popular class assignment is having students meet, hang out and talk with a domestic student for 11-hours over the course of the semester. Hina, a chemical engineering student from Pakistan describes it as, “A chance to meet Americans, talk about friends, go out to eat, and learn more about American life.” “It’s a safe place,” adds Islam. Students can feel free to discuss any concerns or ask any questions about Mizzou or American culture to their conversation partners. It is also a great opportunity for the students to share their culture with domestic students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience it first-hand.
While the students acknowledge that America is completely different from their home countries, their experiences at Mizzou have been very positive. “I love it. It’s diverse,” Hina said, “People are very friendly, easy, and understand you have pressure.” But students are not the only ones who have gotten something out of the course either. Callie had an equally rewarding experience as well, “I love seeing people from different cultures and backgrounds interact and begin to understand each other, which was a major component of the class through classroom activities and the one-on-one meetings. Helping the students in this way and enabling them with tools needed to succeed is very rewarding!” The class will be offered again in Fall 2014!