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3 Ways Prospective International Students Can Plan to Maximize Campus Life

by SYACADEMY posted Dec 28, 2016


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3 Ways Prospective International Students Can Plan to Maximize Campus Life

1. Join a club or sports team: 

Most global universities offer sports and student clubs of all kinds that students can participate in. Before arriving on campus, international students can explore student activities via the school's website and reach out to student organization officers for more information.

Clubs and societies can connect students with similar interests and "break down any perceived barriers while providing them with a way of starting a conversation that convention or cultural differences would not easily allow," Paul Smith, head of the International Office at Dublin City University in Ireland, said via email.

The volleyball team at Seoul National University in South Korea was a natural fit for Indonesian national Kevin Lanov, who played the sport throughout high school. The university has more than 100 student clubs and organizations, including for sports.

Lanov, an undergraduate electrical and computer engineering major, says the volleyball team was not only a way to socialize and stay healthy but also "a good way to learn real teamwork," a skill needed in a global workforce.

2. Volunteer on campus: 

Volunteering is another opportunity that helps students adjust to campus as well as develop skills and boost their CVs. Many universities, such as the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, have a webpage devoted to the many ways students can volunteer, which prospective international students can explore ahead of time.

London School of Economics student Gwakuba pursued volunteer activities unrelated to his coursework to diversify his skill set. As a peer supporter he received training to provide confidential emotional support and reassurance to students in need.

"I decided to become a peer supporter because I wanted to be able to improve my relationship with my friends and the people around me, and I mainly wanted to learn about mental health and well-being," says Gwakuba.

He says he has supported students on issues ranging from exam anxiety to alcohol and drug abuse. For his volunteer work, Gwakuba was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to the LSE Community award, a notable accomplishment to put on his CV.

3. Become a student ambassador: 

As ambassadors, students can work in a variety of on- and off-campus roles, ranging from hosts to student role models. Planning to become an ambassador after entering university can help international students better integrate into campus life and in the process develop skills and contacts to increase their employability.

While roles can vary across schools, ambassadors typically serve in an outreach and recruitment capacity for the university. Lanov, the Seoul National University student, became an ambassador in his sophomore year to contribute to the university and make new connections. As an ambassador, he says he organized events, represented the school at various functions and led campus tours, welcoming everyone from visiting foreign professors to distinguished guests.

“I realized the point of coming to the university is not just to study but making networks,” says Lanov.

At most schools, current students must apply to become an ambassador, which often includes an interview. The University of Southampton in the U.K., for example, recruits current students with strengths ranging from good time management to a flexible attitude.

Smith, from Dublin City University, says involvement in sports and clubs and serving as ambassadors can provide students with leadership, negotiation and teamwork skills. They can also gain “a level of confidence that may not come from class participation alone," Smith said via email.

Gwakuba says his participation in different activities at LSE has allowed him to learn that he thrives best in environments where teamwork is involved and in roles that require him to use his communication and presentation skills.

In addition to helping him become a part of the university community, he says these activities have "given me a better understanding of what type of jobs I would love doing and I would be successful in.”

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