From August 19-29, 2015, MSU welcomed more than 1100 new international undergraduate students plus hundreds of graduate international students, scholars and their families to the campus. OISS, in partnership with the Academic Orientation Program, English Language Center and many other campus partners, hosted programs, presentations, activities and events to welcome new international students and help them adjust to campus life at MSU.

In this blog, we want to share some highlights of the program, heart-warming stories and acknowledgements with gratitude.

Welcome Upon Arrival: Volunteers and OISS Staff Were There to Greet New Students as Soon as They Departed Their Plane or Bus.

OISS set up welcome tables at both the Michigan flyer arrival location and the Lansing airport. Volunteers staffed the tables all day long until after midnight from August 19-23. OISS purchased taxi vouchers for students to take a taxi for free to their residence hall or local hotel. We also chartered buses to take students from their hotels to their rooms at no charge on move-in day.

The New Spartan Preview Educated Students Before Orientation and Freed Up Time for More Engagement and Interaction.

For the first time this year, OISS offered an online pre-arrival tutorial platform called the Spartan Preview. International undergraduates were required to complete all sections of the course and to pass the quizzes before the mandatory International Academic Orientation Program (IAOP). This high tech tool provided multi-media materials on topics such as immigration regulations, laws and safety,health care and health insurance, living on campus, getting to campus, what to pack, online tools and important next steps. Thanks to the Spartan Preview, we were able to offer more engaging content such as the much needed Cultural Fatigue presentation, and we could also ensure more interaction between the students, the presenters, and the small group orientation leaders.

IAOP Presentations Equipped Students with the Critical Information They Need to Be Successful Spartans.

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Throughout the week, OISS staff and our partners from the Academic Orientation Program, the MSU Police as well as faculty and academic advisors presented information on topics such as Immigration Basics, U.S. College Culture, Laws & Safety in the U.S., Healthcare & Health Insurance, Online Resources, Leaving Your Spartan Footprint and Cultural Fatigue.

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Check out our wrap up video of the IAOP Presentations:

The International Parent Orientation Program Ensured Parents that Their Children Would Be Safe and Well Taken Care of at MSU.
Approximately 150 parents from around the world who accompanied their students to the U.S. joined us for a half-day information session. The Alumni Office graciously provided lunch at Shaw dining hall before parents heard presentations from the Office of Admissions, Olin Health Center, Residence Education and Housing Services, MSU Billing Office and OISS.

Orientation Leaders Assisted Small Groups of New International Students and Gave Them Invaluable Peer Advice.

How can we develop strong relationships and a sense of belonging for new students who just arrive here? Our answer is the model of employing Orientation Leaders (OL) who share the most precious time of orientation with their small groups. After an intense two-day OL training, OLs were ready to be paired with a partner and to lead a group of an average of 20 new students. We have seen so many friendships developed thanks to time the students spent in their small groups doing ice breakers and asking questions in a less intimidating setting. We’d like to give a big shout out to all the OLs for their strong display of responsibility, commitment and amazing leadership skills.

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Orwell Madovi

Orwell Madovi, one of the orientation leaders said, “I loved the networking part.

I met amazing people who share the same likes, goals etc. Interacting with my small group helped me to improve in expressing myself through verbatim as it was something that I was not really fond of and it actually helped as a confidence booster for my professional image!”

 

For Sean, another orientation leader, being an OL was like a flash back to the time when he was a freshmen. Being an international student himself, he could understand the feelings and problems new students face.

One interesting thing Sean mentioned was that sometimes new students called him “teacher” or “instructor” although he is a student too.

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The new international students described the experience as “inspiring,” “fun and guided”, “awesome”, “enthusiastic” and “helpful”. Some of the best moments the new students liked were meeting with their small group and leaders, and also when the group had dinner together.

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The International Student Resource Fair Gave Students the Chance to Learn about Resources available on and off-campus as Well as the Opportunity to Join International Student Organizations!

 

More than 100 student groups, on-campus departments and off-campus businesses welcomed the new students with free swag and information to get students off on the right foot. In addition to great information, we also gave students free concession snacks and provided photo opps in a professional photo booth and in front of a giant S made of green and white balloons.

int'l resource fair

Immigration Check-in Fulfilled the Major Requirement of the US Government for International Students Upon Arrival.

Check-in time is one of the busiest times for all OISS staff. It may only take 20 minutes for each student to show us their immigration documents and  to input some numbers and information, but for OISS staff, it was a busy morning in Bessey Hall assisting over 1,000 students in just 4 hours.  We treat it very seriously, just like any other immigration advising work we do. Ismail, one of our advisors, made an animated instruction video to help guide students throughout the process. With hours and hours of preparation and back-end work, we were able to ensure all international students were registered properly according to US government regulations.

Advising and Enrollment Sessions Introduced Students to their Colleges and Academic Advisers who Enrolled Them in their Classes.

The most important task of MSU students is doing well in classes and earning that coveted MSU diploma! These sessions and meetings paved the way for academic success.

Social Events Gave Students a Chance to Relax and Make More Friends in the Evenings.

With all of the move-in stress, information sessions, immigration paperwork and enrolling in classes, a little fun was definitely necessary. OISS hosted several social events for both international and domestic students and community members to join!

Spartan Spirit and Ice Cream Social: Sparty wanted to join the fun!sparty

Many international students want to learn about American college sports. On August 26, the MSU Future Alumni
Association and MSU Athletics brought Sparty, the men’s soccer team and cheerleaders to demonstrate Spartan spirit to the new students! They taught the MSU fight song and Alma Mater song. Green and white memories were built right there with all the cheers for our one name: Michigan State Spartans! Only one thing could make this event sweeter: free Dairy Store Ice Cream!

MSU Cheerleader

The Karaoke and Global Dance Party Brought Students and Communities Together.

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“We want to create an experience that both international and domestic, current and new students, community and staff, will enjoy, and the Karaoke and the Global Dance party were planned with that concept,” said Amber Cordell, the Educational Programs Manager at OISS, who is also the orientation planning lead. Social events were offered throughout the week as a way for students to have fun, let off some steam before classes started and to meet other students with similar interests.

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Want to see some really exciting video footage of these social events? Check out here:

 

“IAOP 2015, my 8th, has come to an end. It has definitely been the best.

As I look at all the friendships created across cultures in so few days, I am moved to tears,” said Amber Cordell, who has put most of her time in the past months and her heart into the IAOP program “As I’ve witnessed leaders grow and make such a positive difference in the lives of others, my heart swells with pride and gratitude.”

There are many people we want to thank…

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Thank you Orientation Leaders for your hard work.

Thank you to more than 100 volunteers who stood up and helped us at various times and locations for hours.  Some of them worked till very late at night just to make sure our new international students were greeted no matter when they arrived.

Thank you to our awesome OISS front desk student workers who have been so helpful and efficient!

From the selfies taken on short lunch breaks, to the best backup dancing we have ever seen at karaoke night, orientation week was a tremendous success and it was great seeing the new students fall in love with MSU.

As another year starts, football season arrives and the leaves start to change color, the new students will become seasoned professionals and the cycle will soon start again. A great year starts with a great orientation week and for that we thank everyone involved in making the process so smooth! Until next IAOP, have a great year Spartans. Go Green!