Monday, September 17, 2012

Calling All International Students!

An exciting and supportive international experience awaits any and all foreign students interested in pursuing an undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. A unique historic location, a beautiful beach surrounding, as well as a bustling city atmosphere, make Wilmington an ideal location to study in the U.S. UNCW faculty, staff and students warmly welcome and accept international students in to their day-to-day campus life. This daily campus inclusion and integration soon carries over to a lifelong attachment to UNCW as international students make the Seahawk lifestyle a part of their permanent memories and life experiences.

Trips to New York and Washington D.C., extensive and detailed foreign student orientation, cultural events throughout the year, and constant encouragement from student mentors and student organizations are just a few of the benefits international students are consistently provided with when studying at UNCW. The university prioritizes international programs and commits to global outreach; well-established programs and support systems have been in place at UNCW for years. The Office of International Programs (OIP) holds a strong presence on UNCW’s campus, as well as provides an on-campus headquarters for students to utilize if any assistance or guidance is needed. Making sure international students feel comfortable, transition smoothly, gain valuable and new experiences and learn how to truly “Dare to Soar” are OIP’s most important goals.

When a student participating in international study at UNCW first arrives at the airport, a free airport pick-up service is available to take the students straight to their new UNCW home (Visit to sign-up prior to arrival in the U.S. for this service). Students have the amazing opportunity to live on-campus at UNCW in the International House. And the best part is, American students who are starting out their time at UNCW live in the International House too. Creating an enriching and exciting experience for both international and American students, I-House helps all students create that foundational love and comfort right from the start of their UNCW life.

After a busy and somewhat overwhelming move-in day for new and returning students, UNCW brings all the foreign and international students together for a detailed and informative two-day orientation. Complete cover of UNCW rules, tips, involvement, student and campus life and academics is included in this thorough orientation. This is also crucial in introducing all the international students to one another and to ensure an understanding of the consistent support present to each student right from the beginning. These orientations occur both in the spring and fall semesters, so no matter when an international student’s time in the U.S. starts, a crash course in everything UNCW is a given.

This support extends beyond just this initial orientation, with student mentors, host family programs and conversation partners support is ongoing year round. A full emersion in the UNCW community, but also the surrounding Wilmington community is right at an international student’s fingertips with these resources available. Students get to know experienced UNCW students, make connections in the vibrant area of Wilmington, and create cultural engagement when interacting with the community they are now a part of. And this engagement works both ways – UNCW students and community members receive just as much satisfaction from these encounters and relationships as international students do.

International Students from Japan in traditional attireNow that all of the logistics are laid out, necessary for an international student’s success at UNCW, having fun is the other main focus OIP guarantees. Many cross-cultural programs and events are sponsored throughout the year. Without compromising learning and a growth in cultural awareness, the campus supports International Education Week in November, end of semester and beginning of semester parties, Intercultural Week in February and the International Student Organization (ISO). These involvement opportunities supply important cultural teachings and experiences, but really concentrate on enjoyment amongst the students.

Wilmington, North Carolina is a beautiful place, and international students will soon discover the great passion UNCW students have in trying new things, spending time outdoors and traveling; this will soon become the passions international students have as they quickly become a part of UNCW life. Kayaking, hiking and camping trips are always available for students to participate in for great prices. Not to mention, involvement in UNCW traditions, such as Beach Blast, Midnite Madness- kickoff of the basketball season-, Wagsgiving – annual feast at Wagoner Dining Hall- and Oozeball - a yearly mud volleyball tournament- are there for the taking. Trips to landmark locations in the U.S. are available, and international students shouldn’t forget to explore the other feature point of North Carolina – the impressive, majestic area of the mountains. North Carolina, and Wilmington itself, offers something for everyone. The warm and welcoming mindset of the Wilmington community makes all the difference as an international student adjusts to this new lifestyle. A completely new, unique time at UNCW can be expected, with a full immersion in to the life of an U.S. university. Location, the loving locals and rich lifestyle of UNCW offer it as a top-rate choice for international students to pursue an undergraduate college experience in the U.S.

By Chloe Miller