Living Abroad

Do you ever wonder how your life will change once you live abroad? With over a million views, the popular article, “17 Things That Change Forever When You Live Abroad” really captures the feeling you get living in another42fb427d89a24006a9be030f854c48de country. Angie Castells, author of her travel blog Mas Edimburgo, is very familiar with this experience. She graduated as a translator from Barcelona and specialized in audiovisual in London. Angie now lives in Edinburgh and enjoys many things like reading, writing, and traveling when she can. You can read the first five points from her article below to get an idea of how life changing this experience can be…

1. Adrenalin becomes part of your life.
From the moment you decide to move abroad, your life turns into a powerful mix of emotions – learning, improvising, dealing with the unexpected… All your senses sharpen up, and for a while the world “routine” is dismissed from your vocabulary to make space for an ever rising adrenalin thrill ride. New places, new habits, new challenges, new people. Starting anew should terrify you, but it’s unusually addictive.

2. But when you go back… everything looks the same.
That’s why, when you get a few days off and fly back home, it strikes you how little everything has changed. Your life’s been changing at a non-stop pace, and you’re on holidays and ready to share all those anecdotes you’ve been piling up. But, at home, life’s the same as ever. Everyone keeps struggling with their daily chores, and it suddenly strikes you: life won’t stop for you.

3. You lack the (and yet you have too many) words.
When someone asks you about your new life, you lack the right words to convey all you’re experiencing. Yet later, in the middle of a random conversation, something reminds you about ‘that time when’…, and you have to hold your tongue because you don’t want to overwhelm everyone with stories from your ‘other country’ and come across as pretentious.

4. You come to understand that courage is overrated.
Lots of people will tell you how brave you are – they too would move abroad if they weren’t so scared. And you, even though you’ve been scared, too, know that courage makes up about 10% of life-changing decisions. The other 90% is purely about wanting it with all your heart. Do you want to do it, do you really feel like doing it? Then do it. From the moment we decide to jump, we’re no longer cowards nor courageous – whatever comes our way, we deal with it.

5. And, suddenly, you’re free.
You’ve always been free, but freedom feels different now. Now that you’ve given up every comfort and made it work thousands of miles away from home… you feel like you’re capable of anything!

To continue reading all 17 things that change when you live abroad click here.

Meet the Orientation Captains: Kalila

Have you met Kalila McCoy?!

If you haven’t, we interviewed her for you. Keep reading to get to know her!


Where are you from?

I’m from Livonia, Michigan.

What year will you be this fall?

My 4th year.

What’s your major?

I’m studying Japanese!

Why did you apply to work for International AOP?

I understand that flying from home to come to a new place can be a scary process, and I want to make sure that every student feels comfortable and understand that MSU is a safe, wonderful place to be. Also I want to make friends with all the new students! :)

 What are you most looking forward to as a captain during orientation?

Watching friends blossom being incoming and returning students.

What do you remember feeling as a new freshmen at MSU?

I was so excited, but also very anxious because it was my first time away from home.

What is the most important advice you would like to share with incoming international students?

Get involved! Go to events! Talk to random people! Making friends and joining organizations is the best way to make your experience at MSU worthwhile. Sitting in your dorm room is boring and you didn’t fly so far just to stay in your room right? Going to events gives you the opportunity to meet new people, and with so many organizations on campus, you should take advantage of it!

What does MSU mean to you?

To me, MSU is a home away from home where I can freely express myself and learn from my peers. It’s a community of people there to support you and lift you up.

What is your favorite quote about being a leader?

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

 “Whatever you want to do, if you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it” – Maya Angelou

Meet the Orientation Captains: Nicola

This week we’re pleased to introduce to you Nicola Chidyaonga!

Get to know Nicola in our interview with her.


Where are you from?

I am from Malawi.

What year will you be this fall?

I’ll be going into my 3rd year (Junior).

What’s your major?

I’m majoring in Interior Design.

Why did you apply to work for International AOP?

I was interested in helping make this transition for the international students as easy going as possible, because I myself am an international student and I have gone through the motions of adjusting to a new culture. I also thought this would be a fun and great learning experience for me.

What are you most looking forward to as a captain during orientation?

I’m looking forward to growing as an individual as well as being some kind of role-model to the incoming international students.

What do you remember feeling as a new freshmen at MSU?

I remember feeling homesick, lonely, and overwhelmed all at the same time. But over time these feeling went away as I begun adjusting and getting involved in the community.

What is the most important advice you would like to share with incoming international students?

My advice to the incoming international students is that they shouldn’t be scared to break out of their comfort zone. Your undergrad experience should be more than just academics. Explore the resources, try something new, learn about a different culture, overcome your fears and just make the best of your undergrad experience…you’d be surprised how quickly time flies!

What does MSU mean to you?

Michigan State University is a community that has pushed me to grow in so many different aspects of my life; from the wide range of activities that have challenged me to break out of my comfort zone, to the number of different people who taught me to be more open minded. Overtime I have also learnt the true essence of what it means to be a Spartan; which to me, is to be someone who gives back to their community, someone who is compassionate, confident, and hard working. This is the sort of person that I strive to be.

What is your favorite quote about being a leader?

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Spartans were here! MSU Students Experience the World Cup in Brasil

Guest Blogger, Raghav Rajan Ravi, a mechanical engineering graduate student from Hyderabad, India traveled to Brasil to experience fútbol at the World Cup. Watch the final match between Argentina and Germany at the International Center, Crossroads Food Court, on Sunday July 13th at 3pm. 

MSU students Deepesh Telesra, Raghav Rajan and Arshad Mulla in Rio

MSU students Deepesh Telesra, Raghav Rajan and Arshad Mulla in Rio

“Without football, my life is worth nothing.”- Cristiano Ronaldo

Right from my childhood I’ve been a big fan of football, playing it in my early childhood days, then started watching it and following it and now it’s become a part of my life. My team has always been Manchester United and it has been my dream to watch a game at The Theatre of Dreams. Although that hasn’t happened yet, another opportunity came my way when my friends randomly tried booking match tickets for the FIFA world cup in Brazil and they got it!


The night before leaving, I could hardly sleep for obvious reasons. Finally it was time to leave. We spent a night in Miami as our next flight to Sao Paulo was the next day. It was my first trip to Miami and I barely managed communicating as Spanish was more commonly spoken than English. That gave me a glimpse of what lies ahead- a land where Portuguese is the main language and me, an Indian guy from the USA with just “little Portuguese” knowledge. The thought of that, though sounds difficult, was challenging and exciting.

Finally got on the flight to Sao Paulo where the announcements were mostly in Portugese but a few in English too. It was fun and a tiring flight but the thought of being 24 hours away from witnessing a live Fifa world cup game kept me going. There was a particular announcement after which the passengers began to applaud. Later I came to know that it was the result of Brazil’s qualification into the knock out stages. This speaks about the heights of futbol fever in this country, an announcement midair being cheered and celebrated.

World Cup Brasil

We directly hit the bed at our accommodation as the next day was a big day. Next morning, we were all excited and geared up. Had some breakfast, got ready, asked our host for directions and a map and set out by foot to explore the city. We saw Colombian fans and Japanese fans fill the streets cheering loudly, the former being more dominant. On reaching the stadium, we found a huge line of people waiting outside. I got my cheeks painted in Colombian colors to show my support and we then ran into the stadium as soon as we could. The atmosphere was electrifying. The Colombian fans were noisy and chanting phrases in Spanish. We soon learnt the lines and cheered along. The game was a pretty one sided affair, but to our fortune, we got to see 5 goals in all! As the final whistle was blown, the crowd erupted. Celebrations everywhere, “Co-lom-bia, Co-lom-bia” chants were heard loud and in unison. It was an amazing feeling.

World Cup Brasil

We left Cuiaba and were headed to Rio. It was a long journey from the airport to our house in Copacabana, but the views of the busy streets and the beautiful beaches kept us going. With a bit of help from the public, we finally reached our house and were given a warm welcome by our host.

The next day was a Brazil match day and an official public holiday. We wore our yellow jerseys and went to watch the game at the Fifa fan fest. It was as good a feel as watching the game at the stadium. The atmosphere, the chants, the sound of drums and music, the dances on the streets, the game of football and a Brazilian win. Overall it was a great experience. It showed how much football means to this country. No wonder it is a religion here.

Spartans were here

This experience of the World Cup was so fulfilling and wonderful that it has made me fall in love with the place and people there. I have clearly made up my mind on going back to Brazil on another vacation- maybe during the Carnival which happens every year or maybe for the 2016 Olympics. Ole! Ola!


Summer Fun in East Lansing

Summers in East Lansing for MSU students normally take on a slower and more relaxing pace of life. Gone are the various sporting events, club meetings, heavy class loads, activities, and exams. Summer break provides students with an extra bit of free time to pursue new interests and indulge in activities that are suitable for summer weather. The City of East Lansing features a large array of free community events over the course of the summer. These events act as great activities for students to unwind and take advantage of their time off.

Enew farmers market poster design ideaast Lansing Farmer’s Markets

The East Lansing Farmer’s Market gives East Lansing residents and MSU students the chance to shop for homegrown, local produce. The Farmer’s Market recently underwent a number of enhancements which includes a new performance plaza, new market identification signs, repaving of the parking lot where the market sits, accessible pathways, new landscaping and new bike parking. The market begins at 10:00am and goes until 2:00pmon Sundays at Valley Court Park, 280 Valley Court (located behind the Biggby on Grand River). In addition to fresh produce available at the market there will also be live music performances taking place each Sunday at 10:00am and noon. The Farmer’s Market runs through October 26th, EBT and Double Up Food Buck benefits are available, and in August and September students with a valid student ID will receive a $2 off coupon towards their farmer’s market purchase.

moonlight film festival flyer 2014

Moonlight Film Festival

The free film series presents popular family friendly movies on a big screen for a unique outdoor movie experience. Live music is also featured one hour prior to the movie time (9:30pm in July and 9:00pm in August). Gather your friends or family, bring a blanket, sleeping bag or lawn chair, and enjoy a night under the stars. In the event of rain the event will be cancelled.

Summer Concert Series

summer concert series flyer 2014 8.5x14The City’s Summer Concert Series takes place on Friday and Saturday evenings from 7:00pm to 9:00pm at the newly improved Ann Street Plaza. With outdoor dining at the surrounding restaurants, plenty of benches, an open area for seating, an outdoor fireplace, and a number of other amenities; the concert series is perfect for a summer evening of musical entertainment. The
concerts will be canceled in the event of rain. Bring a lawn chair and dancing shoes!

Play in the Park

Enjoy fun-filled outdoor entertainment for the whole family! Play in the Park is an interactive four-week entertainment series where children and their families can pack a picnic and bring their lawn chairs or blankets out to enjoy freplay in the park flyer 2014e entertainment in the splendor of summer. The first performance is set to take place on July 8th with the Joel Tacey Variety Show, followed by Cirque Amongus on July 15th, Impression 5 Science Center’s Giant Trebuchet on July 22nd, and wraps up with Zumba Kids on July 29th. All of these performances take place at Valley Court Park (280 Valley Court) at 7:00pm and are cancelled in the event of rain or severe weather.

Open Mic Night

Play an instrument? Love to sing? Want experience performing? New to the community events lineup this year, Open Mic Night gives amateur musicians and open mic flyer 2014professionals alike the chance to showcase their talents. A sound system will be provided for those wishing to perform and local musician Jen Sygit will host. Open Mic will include four Wednesday evenings; July 16th, July 30th, August 13th, and August 27th at Ann Street Plaza beginning at 7:00pm. 

Stay connected with the City of East Lansing on Facebook and Twitter.

Meet the Orientation Captains: Barbara

We’re excited to introduce Barbara Kotei to you this week!

Meet Barbara in our interview with her below.

Barbara Kotei

The photo above captures Barbara’s first and last time ice-skating. Her knees became so familiar with the ice that she has yet to go again.

Where are you from?

I am an international student from Tema, a city in Ghana. Ghana is a country located in West Africa and was somewhat popular for its outstanding performance in football (soccer) up until this year. :(

What year will you be this fall?

I will be a third year junior this fall.

What’s your major?

This has been redefined over my two years of being at MSU but I am currently majoring in Economics with a Pre-Med focus.

Why did you apply to work for International AOP?

As a current AOP staff who has been through AOP as an incoming international student, I wanted to be a part of the group that made incoming students feel welcome as they begin their journey in a place so foreign to them.

What are you most looking forward to as a captain during orientation?

As a captain, I am eager to interact with both the incoming students and my fellow AOP staff across orientation groups.

What do you remember feeling as a new freshman at MSU?

I felt very nervous about being in a new place and homesick from not having my family around. I was also overwhelmed by the size of the campus but believe me, when people tell you the campus seems to shrink the longer you’re here, it is no lie.

What is the most important advice you would like to share with incoming international students?

Don’t be scared to make new friends, especially with other freshmen. Everyone is confused when they get here and if you don’t know something, there’s a high probability that someone else doesn’t know it either. So don’t hesitate to ask for help, we’ve all been in your shoes; we know how it feels.

What does MSU mean to you?

MSU has been an important stepping stone in my life. From changing my major to learning a new sport (football- the American kind, I mean), I have been able to find myself and appreciate the differences around me.

What is your favorite quote about being a leader?

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams



Meet the Orientation Captains: Juwan

We would like you to meet Juwan Howard!

Take a look at his interview with us.

Juwan Howard

Where are you from?

I’m from Lansing, Michigan.

What year will you be this fall?
I will be a Senior.

What’s your major?
I’m majoring in Supply Chain Management.

Why did you apply to work for International AOP?
I applied to work for the International AOP to enhance my leadership skills.

What are you most looking forward to as a captain during orientation?
I’m most looking forward to help making sure orientation leaders become the most effective leaders they can be.

What do you remember feeling as a new freshmen at MSU?
I remember wanting to see all the activities MSU had to offer.

What is the most important advice you would like to share with incoming international students?
Try to make some American friends is my advice for incoming international students.

What does MSU mean to you?
MSU means a diverse community where greatness awaits your future.

What is your favorite quote about being a leader?
“There are 3 kinds of people in the world: Those that make things happen, those that want to make things happen, and those that wonder what the heck happened. Be the one that makes things happen.” – My Dad

Meet the Orientation Captains: Matt

This week we would like to introduce you to Matt Petry!

Check out our interview with him below.

Above is a photo of Matt Petry showing off his Spartan spirit at the 2014 Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California after MSU won.

Where are you from?

I moved around throughout my childhood. I was born in Landstuhl, Germany and moved to Ohio, Illinois, California and Virginia. My parents currently live in Virginia.

What year will you be this fall?
I will be a senior this fall, but I still have two years left at Michigan State.

What’s your major?
I am an Applied Engineering Sciences and International Relations major.

Why did you apply to work for International AOP?
I applied to work for International AOP because I wanted to meet new people, welcome students to the MSU campus and share my Spartan spirit with incoming freshmen. I hope to make the new students feel prepared and comfortable in their new home.

What are you most looking forward to as a captain during orientation?
As a captain, I am most looking forward to getting the opportunity to interact with students in multiple orientation groups. I am really excited to share my experience with all of the wonderful incoming Spartans.

What do you remember feeling as a new freshmen at MSU?
I remember feeling excited and nervous before my first year at MSU. I was ready to figure out how to live on my own and embrace all of the learning opportunities MSU has to offer.

What is the most important advice you would like to share with incoming international students?
The most important advice I would like to share with incoming international students is to embrace all of the opportunities that MSU has to offer. Use your time on campus to figure out who you are and what you want to do. Join a club, attend sporting events, attend guest lectures, hang out with other students, travel, do whatever it is that you want to do!

What does MSU mean to you?
MSU means a place that I can call home for the rest of my life. No matter where I go and what I am doing I always know that there are fellow Spartans with me. MSU provides me with a network of people that can help provide you with a little slice of home no matter where in the world you are (even if its just the customary Go Green!)

What is your favorite quote about being a leader?
My favorite quote about being a leader is “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him. But of a good leader who talks little when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” Lao-Tzu (500BC)
This is my favorite quote about being a leader because it emphasizes the humility needed in order to actual be a great leader. Truly great leaders need no recognition to validate their actions

World Cup Fever

If you haven’t heard already, the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is starting soon! From June 12-July 13, 2014, all eyes will be on Brazil for the largest sporting event of the summer.

Whether you call it soccer or football, the World Cup celebrates what is likely the most popular sport in the world. Don’t agree? More than 200 countries tried out for the 2014 World Cup – it really is played everywhere!

Need more convincing that soccer is the best? Check out this blog post on the Bleacher Report.

The World Cup is played as follows: 32 teams compete in 8 groups – winners of each group advance to a knockout stage, then to quarter finals, semifinals and eventually a champion is named.

Check out the FIFA World Cup website to see match schedules, news stories, and interactive timelines of past World Cup tournaments:

The FIFA World Cup brings an opportunity to celebrate diverse cultures coming together for one common purpose and mutual passion. One way this is expressed is through releasing an album for each tournament full of upbeat songs with international flair to accompany the games. This year’s album is titled “One Love, One Rhythm”. Listen to the Official 2014 FIFA World Cup song, “We are One (Ole Ola)” here.

One Love World Cup

The World Cup celebrations don’t end in Brazil – this year we have a variety of ways you can celebrate the event right here in East Lansing!

• Watch the game with friends at the International Center. Every game will be televised live on big screens in the Crossroads Food Court, with food options to enjoy in a family-friendly atmosphere with plenty of room.

• Try out your own soccer skills at a FREE Soccer Clinic organized by OISS! With coaching from MSU Men’s Soccer and the new Lansing United team, this clinic offers training and scrimmage opportunities for kids aged 5-12 and adults 18 and up. The clinic will be on Saturday, June 14th from Noon – 3pm right here on campus!

Find out more and register for this fun community event here.

We hope you join in the festivities and celebration this summer. Who will YOU be rooting for?

Joy WJoy Walteralter is the Community Outreach Coordinator for OISS. Her experiences growing up as a “third culture kid” in Bangladesh and Malaysia have instilled in her the idea that the world is a big place made much easier to understand through the valuable help of intercultural communication, education and outreach. She is passionate about getting international students off campus and engaged in the Greater Lansing community and loves finding the hidden spots around town that make Lansing great. She has also recently become an avid fútbol fan — she’ll see you at the big screen to catch all the action this summer! 


SUCCESS STORY – Dilshani Sarathchandra

At the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) we are often asked for advice on how to get an internship or job in the U.S. Students are very interested in knowing if others have been successful and, if so, how did they do it? Because of this ongoing interest, we will be posting regular Success Story blogs that are written by current or former international students who have had success with finding an internship or long-term employment. We know that peer-to-peer education is particularly useful and we hope it will inspire you! Do you have a success story? Please email to be featured on our blog!


Navigating the U.S. Academic Job Market as an International Student

If you are approaching the end of graduate studies at MSU and thinking about an academic career in the U.S., you are probably already familiar with the many blogs, forums, and advice columns that are available online for navigating the job market. My intention here is not to inundate you with more advice, but to share with you some personal lessons I learnt about surviving the job market as an international scholar. While some of these may not be applicable to you depending on your specific field of study, here’s what I learnt as a Sociologist.

Mentors matter: The absolute best thing that happened to me during my job search is having mentors who understood my unique circumstances as an international student, who were critical when needed, and who encouraged me to aim high. Throughout the process my mentors tirelessly shared their experiences with me, discussed my strengths and weaknesses, provided feedback on my application packets, arranged mock job talks for me, and even wrote “customized” recommendation letters to each institution I applied for jobs!

Support network matters: The second best thing that happened to me during the job search is having a close friend (an international scholar himself) who was also going through the same process at the time. We proofread each other’s application materials, provided critical feedback, passed along position announcements, celebrated small successes (such as occasional call backs, most of which never mounted to anything) and most importantly, picked up the pieces when those rejection letters started to arrive… We constantly updated each other on the number of job applications sent, indirectly encouraging the other person to “catch up.” After all, it did seem like a numbers game at the time. (I applied for 35 jobs, got 3 callbacks, 2 phone interviews, 1 on-campus campus interview, and a job offer).

Timeline matters: Needless to say, as international students we only have a limited time after graduation (OPT duration) to remain in the U.S. So if you would like to work in the U.S., the strict timeline adds quite a bit of extra pressure. My way of dealing with this was by being proactive, getting a clear sense of the timeline (the OISS advisors are immensely helpful in this regard), and by starting my job search early. I don’t deny that this timeline is stressful, but the good thing is we already have a clear idea of it, to the exact date! (If you don’t believe me, just check the EAD card…), so if you plan early enough, the task isn’t insurmountable.

Information matters: Yes, there’s a lot of information out there and it’s easy to get lost in it or get overwhelmed by it all. But knowing as much as you can about the job market and about others’ experiences can help. My bus ride to school and back was almost always dedicated to reading about the do’s and don’ts of the academic job search (my smart phone was a blessing!). And yes, please go to those job talks! I learnt so much by being involved in job searches in my department as a graduate student. It prepares you for what lies ahead.

Options matter: Many job searches do end well. As hard and as excruciating the academic job search sounds, my colleagues who graduated with me have all found gainful employment. But, once again, as international students we need to be more cognizant of the timeline and think realistically about all available options. Some questions to ponder are, what happens if the academic job search fails? How flexible are you in terms of tenure stream vs non tenure stream positions? What are your other options (in U.S. or in your home country)? What happens if you are unable to get a job in the U.S.? Are you sufficiently aware of the job prospects in your home country? (Graduate school does take most your time and energy, so I for one lost my professional connections in Sri Lanka and was pretty unfamiliar with the job prospects in my own country by the time I graduated). So, if I were to do this again, I would definitely keep more of my options open.

While wishing you success in your own job search, I will leave you with this quote by Eric Roth: “Life can only be understood looking backwards. It must be lived forward.” Happy job hunting y’all!


Dilshani Sarathchandra is from Sri Lanka. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Michigan State University in 2013 and will be joining University of Idaho as an Assistant Professor this Fall. She works in the interdisciplinary field of Science and Technology Studies. Her current research examines the nature of expertise and decision-making in science, with a focus on U.S. Land Grant Universities.