An article on voice of America news saying that “When we, international students, make a list of schools we will be applying to, we may have a lot of criteria. …. But a commonly neglected criterion is probably the availability and range of services that a school has to offer specifically to international students.”
I think this is true. In my case, before coming to Northwestern last September, I did not even know that there would be an office called International Office at the school. The longer I am here, the more I see why we need to have an office like this at school. However, not all International Students Services are the same. That is why this article provided us the a list of what we should consider when evaluating the quality of the International Students Services of a school.
1. Where to find information
I had been to the US once before applying for MSC, therefore, I didn’t have questions related to international services at first. However, right when I received the admission confirmation, I also got an email from MSC advising me the next steps that I should to to have a visa. That email also provided me the link to the website of International Office (IO) of Northwestern for my reference. In my time here in this program, I always have someone to talk to if I have any questions about international students. All the information are well updated on the website of IO, there are the walk-in hours when we can just come to meet an advisor at IO without making appointment, and if you register to be in list serve, you would also receive weekly emails from IO, updating you about all the things that they have for you.
Beside that, the MSC staff are always very supportive and willing to help you. I still remember once in my first couple months in the program, I came to ask them a question about the working permit for international students in the US, instead of telling m “You can go to this page…” or “You should send an email to an IO advisor”, they wrote an email to IO for me, and I got all my confusion clear right after that.
I went to two orientations before starting the program, one was only for international students and one was for MSC students of 2012. If you miss that first orientation, no worries! During the school year, there are many many workshops organized by IO to help international students answer all the questions that they have about law, rule, rights, etc. in the states. All the information in that first orientation will also be included.
3. Other services
“One thing that most people need help with while on campus is filing their U.S. tax return. This process is pretty complicated, especially if you do it for the first time. If you try to do it on your own, you may make a mistake that can cost you money.”
I don’t have any concern about tax so I have never been to any workshop about tax of IO. But I am sure that these workshops are very often organized as I keep seeing them in the events & workshops updates sending to my email.
4. Religious and cultural accommodations
What we have here at NU is the Brown Bag Discussion. This one hour event is organized once month. I personally really like it because the topics of the discussion really widen my knowledge about the culture of the US. Sometimes we discuss about history, sometimes about sport, etc. and the most impressive one for me was about Slangs. Not only free discussion for free knowledge, IO also provides us free food in this event. Nice right?
Those are all the experiences about International Students Services that I have at Northwestern, hope that they are helpful for the friends who are thinking about going abroad to study like I was.