Move-In and Orientation: An International Student’s Perspective
Taking my cue from Sami’s informative blogpost about move-in, I thought of writing a similar post for international students.
The countdown has begun! If you’re a member of the Class of 2019, you will move into your new home in just over a month. Yay! There are a lot of reasons to be excited: meeting new people, attending new classes and joining new clubs. But before you do all that, you will attend CommonVU orientation. Before I came to Vanderbilt, the word ‘orientation’ brought up images of long lectures, over-crowded auditoriums and awkward small talk. But in Commodore nation, we do things a little differently.
Vanderbilt has many orientation programs planned for first-year students, and if you’re an international student, there are a few extra programs designed especially for you. I don’t have the data for the newest batch, but for the Class of 2018, a total of 28 countries were represented, including the U.S. A colorful display of every country’s flag can be seen in the Commons Center throughout the year.
It’s been nearly a year since I have attended such orientation events, but their memories are still fresh in my mind. Here’s a look at some of the move-in and orientation events for international students (or at least the ones that happened during my year):
- Move-In. Although international students do not get to experience the move-in crew, we have the wonderful and extremely helpful ISSS office in the Student Life Center, along with a few volunteers who are there for you every step of the way. First, you need to get checked-in at the ISSS office. Then, you are given a presentation about the essential details you need to know about the campus and its various resources. After that, you are handed your key to your very own Commons dorm room! There are volunteers to help you move your luggage if you need extra help. The best part about moving-in as an international student? You get a two-day window to move-in, and you avoid the frenzied atmosphere of the regular move-in day.
- International Students’ Orientation. This event was held in the Student Life Center
ballroom, directly across the ISSS office. In the ballroom, there were many information tables set up, representing on and off campus organizations. Then, we were all sorted into groups of 15-20 students and were assigned two international orientation leaders (or IOLs) who were upperclassmen (shout-out to the wonderful Cici!). We were introduced to many different administrative departments and other helpful resources (your usual orientation stuff). At the end, after a few hearty slices of pizza, we also got a unique ISSS T-shirt.
- Dinner with VUceptors. The first time I met my VUceptor, Rebecca, was at the Commons Center when all the international students had dinner with their VUceptors. I also met Van, an international student from Vietnam and now one of my best friends at Vandy. Van was also in my Visions group. I had an amazing time getting to know Rebecca and Van, and I truly cherish the extra time I got with them before all the other students arrived on campus. Rebecca also walked us through the dining center and the meal plan, which seemed a bit complicated at the time ( it’s 1 entree, 2 sides and a beverage or 5 sides or 1 entree, 3 sides and water. Some dishes can be either entrees or sides). Later that evening, we had a dessert reception at Dean Wcislo’s house on the Commons, and we met Dean Wcislo (who was my faculty VUceptor) and other faculty members as well.
- Parthenon Visit. Right across Vandy’s campus, we have the famous Centennial Park, where you can also find a replica of the Parthenon. It’s hard to miss when you’re driving by, but I hadn’t gone inside it before. Luckily, ISSS had arranged an outing at the Parthenon for international students. We had so much fun exploring the magnificent architecture, numerous artworks and of course, the imposing statue of Athena. Fun fact- this was also the shooting location for the movie Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief.
There were many other orientation activities such as Q&A sessions with international upperclassmen, campus tours, Nashville bus tours, Wal-Mart shuttles and immunization stations.
Coming to a different country to study, and adjusting to the local culture can seem daunting, but Vanderbilt, especially the ISSS office, does a great job of making the transition easier for international students. We can’t wait to welcome the international members of the Class of 2019! See you soon!