By Victor Badillo, Graduate Student, Student Worker, Office of International Affairs
OIA is always there when it comes to help our international and exchange students, and this is another way we try to do so. The first months in a new country is hard, and it is good to have someone who can offer some guidance. This was the idea behind our Cross-Cultural Workshop Series. Throughout the semester, we met the students and had an informal discussion unlike a normal classroom. We shared our stories, strategies, and ideas about what to do in the face of this new and thrilling chapter of our lives: studying abroad.
With this workshop series, our approach intended to make learning collaborative and co-constructed by the participants rather than developed by the workshop leader. Our students came with great ideas, we tried to build upon the ideas and offer some help.
We discussed topics like getting to know Chatham, its community and the larger Pittsburgh community. “Surviving your first month” was a way to check how people were doing and also share some common advice. Of course, helping with school-related topics was one of our goals, and we spent some time talking about the US classroom culture, preparing for midterms, and strategies to study. But not everything is about school, and the OIA is aware that taking care of ourselves is a top priority for every student. In this spirit, we talked about home sickness, culture shock, and self-care. Dr. Elsa Arce from Chatham Counseling Center talked with us about signs of homesickness and gave us resources within our campus and in the Greater Pittsburgh area. We also learned about a few mindfulness techniques and how to improve our experience through relaxation and productive breaks.
At the OIA we are always trying to enhance the experience for all our students, and this series was a small effort with a big payback.
By Mai Nguyen, MBA Student, Graduate Assistant for the Office of International Affairs
It has been three months since I first took my first step in the States. I fell in love with the people and culture here right away! One of my friends who lived in Pittsburgh welcomed me with a very tight embrace which dispersed my exhaustion from such a long flight from Hanoi to Hong Kong to the U.S. Professor James Pierson, Director of Chatham MBA Program, was very helpful in giving me information about the program and my career prospects after graduation. Dr. Linh Phung, Mr. Chris Musick, Ms. Kate Emory and other graduate assistants at Office of International Affairs were my lovely supportive colleagues.
Working as a graduate assistant at Chatham is such a very interesting experience in my life. I was first assigned to conduct research about promising markets for studying abroad. I took Vietnam as my first challenge to overcome. The work is independent by reading annual reports and making contacts with agents. Furthermore, I can use my knowledge from my current MBA degree to facilitate my actual job. Especially, I have a chance to work directly with people in various positions at the university, which may not be common in other organizations.
If I have to point out a tiny disappointment, I have to confess that I wish Chatham would be a little bigger school with greater diversity of races and nationalities. However, the advantage of attending a not-so-big university is that I am highly engaged with the local communities and American culture. I feel that independence, discipline, teamwork, and punctuality are the core values in the work culture at Chatham that I fit well in.
While working part-time at Office of International Affairs, I am also a full-time MBA student. I really enjoy being occupied because to me when you work for your dreams, it is not a work anymore. I also admire another of American value: efficiency. I like the way my classmates routinely schedule every little group meeting or even a visit. They do not want to miss deadline. Also, I have found my professors to be very instructive and dedicated since they push us to go beyond our limitations and get out of our comfort zone to reach another accomplishment in our career path. I did not really have that experience anywhere else.
Work and study cannot take you away from indulgence where I can find peace by walking home in the snowy nostalgic street along ancient buildings and majestic churches that never appear in a tropical land where I come from. I know there are a lot of wonderful things ahead of me to discover here in Pittsburgh and the States.
By Martina Wells, Coordinator of Modern Languages Program Program
The Modern Languages Program at Chatham attracts an increasing number of students each year. This current academic year, 218 students (an average of about 109 per semester) are enrolled in one of the six foreign languages taught at Chatham: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish. All of these languages are taught at the introductory and intermediate levels. Each course focuses on basic language acquisition in the first year and on deepening linguistic and cultural knowledge in the second year. While some students study a language just to satisfy a personal interest, many others make their language study count toward general education requirements or one of the International Certificates requirements. They often use the language knowledge gained to enhance the experience of studying abroad and being able to immerse in the local culture.
Now, students can take their language study even further. Just this term, Chatham has introduced a language minor in French, German, and Spanish, allowing students to reach proficiency in another language and culture at a level beyond the purview of the Certificates. Twenty (20) credits are needed to fulfill the minor requirements. This includes eight (8) credits at the intermediate level I and II at Chatham. Twelve (12) credits (4 courses) will be completed through coursework taken during a Study Abroad or at one of our PCHE partner institutions and consist of advanced language courses and courses on culture and/or literature.
Without a doubt, the Language Minors along with the International Certificates are a great way to boost the internationalization of students and develop the skills needed to successfully live and work in an increasingly interdependent global environment.
If you want to learn more about language study at Chatham, the International Certificates or the Language Minors, please contact Dr. Martina Wells, Coordinator of Modern Languages at: email@example.com.
Starting in Fall 2019, OIA will require all international students, new and returning, to complete an online check-in. The online check-in form takes about 5-minutes to complete, and asks for information about your immigration documents, address and contact information, and program of study. This is to keep OIA informed about your Program and to streamline SEVIS reporting.
New students are still required to attend the mandatory new international student orientation, but the online form will allow them to supply information in advance of the orientation.
Your I-20 is a ‘living document’- meaning that it must be kept up-to-date, and any changes must be entered into your SEVIS record. As an example, students are required to report changes of address and contact information to OIA within 10-days. This is required by regulation. By submitting the online form at the start of each semester, this will act as a reminder of the regulations and what you need to do to maintain student status.
OIA sends monthly reminders on how to maintain status, and information on upcoming activities and workshops.
If you have questions on how to maintain status, or are looking for general information on F-1 regulations, please visit the Study in the States website located here: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/
The office of international affairs is open Monday through Friday from 9am- 5pm. Please make an appointment by emailing InternationalAffairs@cahtham.edu or calling 412.365.1388.
Office of International Affairs, Chatham University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.chatham.edu/academics/international