范德比尔特大学(Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN)

By Anayat Durrani

美国拥有世界上最大规模的大学,如此大的教育力量,它必然需要有自己的服务目标。美国本国的民众是不足以达到这个数量的,所以它还承接着全世界其它国家学生的培养。这部分人就构成了美国数量庞大的留学生队伍。International Student Services offices简称ISS,就是国际学生服务办公室,基本上每所高校里都有这个设置。它主要是为留学生服务的。因此,未来准备到美国留学的中国学生需要知道这个地方,它可以向国际学生提供移民和入职培训方面的帮助。但国际学生服务办公室提供的服务并不限于此,可能包括全年的活动。所以,中国学生到达美国大学校园后,可以计划充分利用他们学校的ISS的方法,譬如参加大学全年组织的讲习班和娱乐活动。

Prospective international students likely know that they can turn to international student services offices at U.S. universities for help with immigration and orientation. But the services ISS offices provide do not stop there and can include year-round activities.

Here are some ways international students can plan to make the most out of their school’s ISS office after they arrive on campus.

Advising. While it’s common for U.S. universities to have academic advisers and counselors for domestic and international students, some ISS offices have additional advising services for current international students that address issues beyond immigration and visas.

Rick Lane, director of international student services at the University of Illinois—Springfield, says international students visit the ISS office in person or contact staff via telephone or email with academic, cultural, social and personal concerns.

“They feel comfortable discussing those with us, both because of the broad range of international living experience represented by our advisers, and because we have established a valued relationship with them since before they arrived in the U.S.,” Lane says.

The University of Washington offers advising on topics like taking classes at another school, travel, Social Security number eligibility and on-campus employment. The University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign has advising appointments for spouses and families of international students regarding their cultural, social and educational needs.

Jody Pritt, director of international student services at the University of South Carolina, says international students should make the ISS office at their school their first stop for advisement.

“We advise on matters ranging from obtaining a U.S. driver’s license to obtaining health insurance, or to identify opportunities for them to engage in community service, not to mention personal needs like finding housing, immunization requirements, setting up cellular phone service and much more,” Pritt says.

Workshops. After enrolling, international students should plan to take advantage of workshops provided by their school’s ISS office on topics ranging from travel to financial management and more.

“I have attended many of these workshops,” says Iraqi national Mustafa Al-Qadi, a doctoral student studying electrical engineering at the University of Kansas.

For example, he’s attended “When Love Crosses Borders,” a workshop arranged by the university’s ISS office and presented by the school’s Legal Services for Students office; it focused on how students marrying U.S. citizens can file for U.S. citizenship.

Al-Qadi has also attended workshops called “Optional Practical Training and Academic Training for International Students,” “Essentials of Car Ownership for International Students” and “Income Tax Workshop for International Students.”

The University of Texas—Dallas similarly holds workshops, such as “Study Abroad for International Students” three to four times a year, with the most recent one in June.

“Each semester various sessions are organized in coordination with several departments on campus on topics related to student safety, health, transportation and career preparedness,” says Josephine K. Vitta, director of international student services at the University of Texas—Dallas’ International Center.

Pritt says the ISS office at the University of South Carolina holds several employment workshops throughout the year, including one in which a local immigration attorney discusses immigration issues to consider after graduation. She says the school also has a workshop walking students through using software to manage their taxes.

“These are some of what we consider to be the essential support services we provide,” Pritt says.

Trips and activities. International students can also plan to explore their new community through trips and other activities held by ISS offices year-round, including summer events at some universities.

“We have a regular series during the academic year that we call our Kansas City Trip Series. About three times a semester we will plan a trip to some interesting spot in Kansas City: the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the City Market, a sporting event, a special performance or exhibit,” says Charles Olcese, director of international student services at the University of Kansas.

Olcese says interested students must sign up for the trips and the school arranges transportation. The activities are very popular, he says, and many married students with children enjoy the trips to Kansas City.

Vitta says the International Center at the University of Texas—Dallas similarly organizes local trips in the Dallas area to sporting events, museums and other venues for international students to learn about American culture and traditions.

And Pritt says the University of South Carolina’s ISS office offers opportunities for students to get off campus and learn about the surrounding community year-round.

“We’ve taken students to nearby cities like Charleston and Savannah for a day of exploration, but we also find unique opportunities for them to attend cultural events like a NASCAR race, an NBA game or a tour of a historical home,” Pritt says.

Al-Qadi says some of his favorite activities include International Trivia Nights, the Kansas City Trip Series and the Clinton Lake BBQ events arranged by the ISS office at the University of Kansas. He says the many ISS-provided services have helped him feel more welcome and involved in the community.

“This had a great positive impact on my academic and social and cultural experiences here at KU,” Al-Qadi says.