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Immerse Yourself in US Culture While Advancing Your Language Study

Immerse Yourself in US Culture While Advancing Your Language Study

Students seeking a supportive Academic English program and the opportunities of city living will love Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

This private university, with an enrollment of 2,200 students, offers a safe campus with a bustling city just outside its front doors. On weekends, students can road trip to two of the county’s most renowned cultural hubs—New York City and Washington, D.C. (six and four hours away from Pittsburgh, respectively).

English Language Program

The key to the Chatham English Language Program (ELP) is the support students receive. Enthusiastic student testimonials speak to the energy and warmth of staff and participants in the ELP and the difference it makes in students’ lives.

Classes are kept small—12-14 students—and divided into five language levels. Faculty members are chosen for their exceptional teaching ability and their passion for supporting student growth.

The ELP is a pathway program to the university; students have conditional admission to degree programs and a TOEFL/IELTS waiver for those who complete the advanced level. To kick-start their degrees, students can sign up for classes in other departments, accruing credits and skills while advancing their language study.

Students interested in part-time or short programs also find connection and success at Chatham.

Student Life

 ELP students are immersed in American culture. They are housed in charming student residences with American roommates. Abundant activities and a conversation partner program help build friendships and strengthen English fluency and comfort.

Offering a great deal of events and attractions, Pittsburgh was ranked among the 50 “Best Places to Travel in 2016” by Travel and Leisure Magazine.

From the classroom to city life, studying at Chatham means living your cultural and language goals.

From Schramm’s Farm to Presbyterian Church Tour to Fallingwater

By Kate Emory, International Student Services Coordinator

Pumkin Patch
Pumkin Patch

Throughout the semester there are many opportunities for students to interact with American students and culture: on campus, in the local community, and nationally as they travel. Over the course of the Fall 2016 semester, Chatham students have participated in athletic activities, volunteered at local community organizations, and traveled to Chicago, Seattle, New York, and Washington DC.

The Office of International Affairs has organized local events,  such as a church tour the Presbyterian Church in East Liberty and the Macedonian Church of Pittsburgh in the Hill District, and a day trip to Fallingwater and Ohio Pyle State Park. Sharla Yates, an instructor in the English Language Program, also organized a visit to Schramm’s Farm in Harrison City PA for the students in the US Culture  class.

At Schramm’s Farm students were able to experience classic “fall farm festival” atmosphere, including walking through a pumpkin patch, drinking fresh apple cider, exploring a corn maze, and taking a hay ride. Students were able to pick a pumpkin, which they then used to carve Jack O’ Lanterns in the US Culture class.  Students also participated in the Chatham Harvest Fun Fest on the quad and experienced American autumn activities with their classmates and roommates.

Church tour
Macedonian Church of Pittsburgh

The church tour of East Liberty’s Presbyterian Church allowed students to climb the steeple to the top and learn about the buildings interesting history. Later in the semester students were invited to the Macedonian Church of Pittsburgh to experience a Baptist choir and learn about the African American experience in Pittsburgh.


Fallingwater, a national historic landmark, is considered the crowning achievement of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. We toured the house and learned about the family who lived there, as well as about Frank Lloyd Wright and his work. After the tour, we visited Ohio Pyle State Park, which, despite the name, is still in Pennsylvania. There students explored the small town, ate American BBQ, and began a hike along the Youghiogheny River. Some students expressed relief to experience a “refreshing” break from the rigors of the classroom and explore the state park.

Students enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner on Wednesday November 16th at with hundreds of Chatham’s students, faculty, and staff. There they feasted on turkey, mashed potatoes, yams, green beans, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. During the Thanksgiving holiday, many students will travel on their own to experience other American cities: Washington DC, New York, Chicago, while others will be visiting family or going to their roommate’s home.

Students are encouraged to let OIA know of their interests to assist us in planning these events and trips. Pittsburgh has much to offer students, and we look forward to introducing students to interesting facets of American and local culture.


International Students’ FAQs

By Kate Emory, International Student Services Coordinator

Throughout the semester, international students have questions regarding what activities they can, and cannot do, in regards to remaining “in-status”. It is important to check with OIA if you are unsure if something will affect your immigration status or not. It is always better to ask, than to find out later that you are out of status! Here are some frequently asked questions:

Q: Can I get a Social Security Number?

A: Only those with employment are eligible for a social security number. International students have limited opportunities for employment, and should check with OIA. To receive a SSN, you must submit proof of immigration status, job offer, and copies of your passport and I-94 to the Social Security Office. If you are applying for a driver’s license but do not have an SSN, you can get a letter from the Social Security Office stating that you are not eligible for the social security number.

Q: I am getting a low-grade in my class, can I withdraw from the class?

A: F-1 students must be enrolled as full-time students to maintain their immigration status. If you will go below full-time status, you must check with OIA first. If you drop below full-time enrollment without immigration authorization, your student status could be terminated. Full time for undergraduate and ELP students is 12-credits a semester; for graduate students it is 9-credits a semester.

Q: I want to travel during Winter break! Can I go outside of the US?

A: Yes. During University breaks, students may travel. Make sure you stop by OIA to get a travel signature on page 2 of your I-20 before you leave the US. An email will go out in December with set times for travel signatures.

Q: I want to get a part-time job in Squirrel Hill, can I?

A: No. If you have an F-1 or J-1 student visa, you must follow the regulations of your visa. Employment must be authorized by either OIA (on campus employment, CPT) or by USCIS (OPT, Economic hardship). Those who work without authorization may have their student status terminated.

What English Language Students Tell Us

By Sylvia Shipp, ELP Lecturer and Student Advisor

ELP Students at Frick Park
ELP Students at Frick Park

What can be described as beautiful, quiet, and wonderful? To give a clue, it’s a place with a tight-knit community where a lot of fun events take place, where squirrels roam free, and teachers are excellent. These are just a few of the ways our international students describe Chatham University. Chatham is a very friendly campus with a big heart that works hard to create opportunities for domestic and international students to mix with one another. These opportunities include sports, art, poetry, movies, volunteering, cultural excursions, and more; everything a student dreams a university will have.

Chatham ELP students come from countries far and wide, such as China, Colombia, India, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, and Vietnam. Some of the fun things they have mentioned doing lately include trying out the many excellent restaurants, visiting Pittsburgh’s world-class museums, reading English books, watching movies at the theater, shopping, hanging out with new friends, traveling to other nearby cities like New York and Washington DC, and taking part in cultural events such as pumpkin carving.

Experiences Chatham ELP students are looking forward to doing during the winter break include visiting exciting destinations like Disneyworld in Florida, Philadelphia, and Boston. Others plan to spend the holidays with their American friends.

Recent achievements come in all shapes and sizes. Some students have expressed excitement at having finished their first English novel. Another is proud of opening a bank account on her own. Some achievements are more academically oriented. One student announced she just completed a 1,000-word essay, while another said her presentation skills have dramatically improved. A hearty congratulation goes to Hao (Bruce) Liang, who is excited about his acceptance to the University of Tennessee. Xinran Chen and Sanja Golalic will start their degree program at Chatham after completing the English Language Program this fall. Congratulations to Xinran and Sanja!

New Semester Welcome and a Snapshot of International Student Demographics

New Semester Welcome and a Snapshot of New International Student Demographics

During the orientation this fall, the Office of International Affairs welcomed 73 new international students from about 20 countries all over the world.

Chart 1: Percentage of students by program

Chart 3

*Note. This chart only shows the statistics for NEW international students and does not include returning international students.

Apart from students attending a degree program at Chatham, we have always had a large group of students who are enrolled in various international non-degree seeking programs, including the English Language Program, the Chatham Semester Program, the Chatham International Internship Program, and Exchange and Partner programs.

In terms of countries of origin, Table 1 shows the largest sending countries to Chatham.

Table 1: Countries of origin

Table 1

Other countries that our new international students represent include Albania, Canada, Dominican Republic, Germany, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Thailand, the UK, Venezuela, and Vietnam. We are delighted to see so much diversity among our international population.

One noticeable change this year is that we have fewer Saudi students due to the change in the Saudi scholarship program. This change has resulted in a sharp decline of Saudi students in programs all over the country, not only at Chatham. At its peak, the English Language Program had 78 Saudi students out of 110 students enrolled full-time and part-time in the program. We are making efforts to further diversify the international student population, promote international programs and Chatham to the local and international communities, and develop new programs as needed by new partners and students.

Welcome all new international students to Chatham! We wish everyone a great semester and academic year!

Fifth Anniversary at Chatham

By Linh Phung, English Language Program Director

August 22 was my fifth anniversary of working at Chatham full time. Today was my sixth Opening Convocation. How time flies! I found the speech that I gave at the Opening Convocation for the Global Focus Year of Vietnam and a picture of me wearing a “restyled” ao dai on that day. It has been five years full of challenges, opportunities, and accomplishments. Here’s to a successful academic year to all!

Vietnamese Ao Dai
Vietnamese Ao Dai

Xin Chào everyone, Distinguished president Barazzone, vice president Armesto, trustees,

Dear Chatham community,

My name is Linh Phung. I worked at Chatham as an ESL adjunct instructor for the two previous semesters and am now working full time in the English Language Program in the office of International Affairs.

First of all, I’d like to say how honored I am to be here at Chatham during the year of Vietnam and to be invited to talk to you today about my home country. It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to share my perspectives about my country as an insider. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for me to look at my country when I’m away from it – to look at it from your perspectives. I appreciate living between cultures, and Global Focus is a great intercultural space to promote understanding, compassion, and reflection.

If you look at Vietnam on the map, you will see an S shape bordered by China to the North, Laos and Cambodia to the West and the vast East Sea to the East. Writers describe the country as a beautiful girl with attractive curves. Yet, it also looks like a jagged lightning bolt. The fact is that this beautiful girl has attracted a lot of international attention throughout history. A Vietnamese girl can be gentle, but she can also be strong, or even fierce when necessary. She has been caught in the storms of wars many times throughout History. Our country’s fight to maintain our own identity as Vietnamese, our language, our culture has always been intense and sometimes ferocious.

Some other authors liken the country to a bamboo pole carrying a heavy basket of rice hanging from each end. It is still a common sight in Vietnam to see a farmer carrying this pole on their shoulders to transport their harvested produce from the field to their homes or to the market. This apt comparison refers to the fact that the expansive Red River delta in the north and vast Mekong River delta in the south are the biggest rice producing areas in the country. In fact, Vietnam is among the top three rice exporting countries in the world.

While agriculture still accounts for a big proportion of the Vietnamese economy, other economic sectors are developing fast. Vietnam has been one of the fastest growing economies for the past few decades with bustling cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, full of opportunities and excitement. Vietnamese students here in the U.S. tell me that they often hear this advice: “if you want to get rich, go back to Vietnam.” There is certainly a lot of economic and social advancement and rapid progress in Vietnam.

Interestingly enough, despite its status of being a developing country Vietnam has been rated as one of the happiest countries in the world. This probably stems from the fact that we often have a positive and calm outlook about the world. We smile all the time. We are always surrounded by family and friends. It’s also a country where people think they can move up the social and economic ladder through education.

It was a pity that last year I couldn’t go back to Vietnam to celebrate, Hanoi, our capital’s 1000th anniversary. I’m so glad to be a part of this wonderful celebration of my country during this academic year at Chatham. I feel like home away from home. Thank you very much and I’m looking forward to meeting many of you!

2015-2016 Achievements and 2016-2017 Opportunities: A Focus on International Education

Fall2014.jpgThe 2015-2016 academic year saw bustling international activities at Chatham University. In the past year, 200 international students have made Chatham their home. These include undergraduates, graduates, English Language Program (ELP) students, Chatham Semester students, Chatham International Internship students, and Exchange students. In particular, a third of the students attended the English Language Program, which has been the largest program in terms of international student enrollments in the past few years.

International End-of-Term Celebration
International End-of-Term Celebration

Coming from 30 different countries (Angola, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Finland, Germany, Guatemala, India, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Vietnam), international students have brought so much richness and diversity to the University.

Students in their country's traditional clothes
Students in their country’s traditional clothes

Apart from international students, Chatham has welcomed over 60 visitors from overseas universities and organizations, including 14 international educational leaders participating in a leadership training program organized by the U.S. Department of State. Moreover, throughout the year, the award-winning Global Focus program offered numerous stimulating events on the theme of climate change to the Chatham and Pittsburgh communities. One of the highlights of the program was a series of speeches and lectures from Dr. Richard Alley, a co-Nobel prize winner, professor at the Pennsylvania State University, and author of Earth: The Operator’s Manual.

Professor Richard Alley's Lecture at Chatham
Professor Richard Alley’s Lecture at Chatham

Furthermore, in Maymester and summer 2016, about 100 Chatham undergraduate and graduate students participated in various study abroad programs to expand their knowledge and perspectives in their field of study. These programs included Maymester field experiences in Brazil, Greece, Indonesia, Sweden, Taiwan, Peru, and Chile and summer field experiences in Prague and London, Ecuador, and Germany. Summer study abroad students also studied and/or completed internships in Iceland, Cuba, Scotland, Morocco, Japan, Taiwan, India, and Korea.

Kayla Clem summer 2014 Costa Rica study abroad

The 2016-2017 academic year promises to be another exciting year in the international arena at the University. The Chatham community is excited to have Dr. David Finegold as the 19th president of the university, who cares deeply about global education and has a vision to develop Chatham into a world-class and world-known university. Although the number of Saudi students in the English Language Program has greatly declined due to the changes in the Saudi scholarship program, we are delighted to see more diversity among new international students. Albania, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Norway are a few more countries that our new students represent. We also welcomed the first students from new partner universities, including Baika Women’s University, Okayama University, and Hochschule Reutlingen University. Over seventy new international students arrived safe and sound on campus, and participated in an informative and engaging week-long orientation program that ended with the Opening Convocation and Global Focus Picnic on Sunday, August 28. All are excited and ready to start the new academic year.

Opening Convocation Fall 2016
Opening Convocation Fall 2016

Among internationally focused programs at Chatham, we are proud to witness the great success of the first two cohorts of 29 students enrolled in the International Master of Science in Nursing program and excited to welcome the third cohort of 11 students. As a collaboration between Chatham University and Shanghai University of Medical Health Sciences, the program has demonstrated the effectiveness of a well-orchestrated collaboration within the university and across borders to offer the best education and services possible to the students. The success of the first two cohorts has resulted in the establishment of Chatham’s first international alumni chapter in Shanghai.

MSN Students with Some Members of the International Team
MSN 2016 Students with Some Members of the International Team

On the study abroad front, Chatham field experiences to Canada, Ecuador, Japan, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom have been developed to engage more students in Maymester 2017 and summer 2017.

The Global Focus Year of Canada will bring programming around 4 themes: The First Nations of our northern neighbor, Multiculturalism, the Northwest Passage, and Canada-United States comparisons. A wonderful collection of short stories by Ojibway writer Richard Wagamese entitled One Native Life is readily available around campus for your reading pleasure.

Finally, the Office of International Affairs, the English Language Program, and the Modern Languages Program hope to bring more people together for intercultural exchange and discussion through the Conversation Partner Program, Conversation Hours, Global Mixer, International Karaoke Night, and International Education Symposium, to name a few programs and activities scheduled for fall 2016. Best wishes to a great year ahead!

Talk & Travel

By Oksana Moroz, intern and instructor at the ELP


Summer is a traveling season. Students love to go to different countries on vacation. This is also a great time to learn a language using some common strategies.

No matter where you go in the world, you’re going to meet people who don’t speak your native language. An easy way to learn a new language to visit the country and immerse yourself in that world.

Step 1

Watch television in your hotel room, preferably with the subtitles turned on. Repeat the phrases as they’re spoken and learn what they mean by reading the subtitles. It’s also helpful to watch the news, as the reporters tend to speak more slowly, as well as commercials, since they’re easier to follow than television shows and movies.

Step 2

Listen to radio broadcasts playing local music. Even if you can’t understand the meanings behind the words, it exposes you to how words and phrases sound.

Step 3

Talk to locals using the words you know. Speak clearly, and explain at the beginning of your conversation that you speak only a small amount of the language. This prevents the other person from speaking too fast.

Step 4

Keep a dictionary with you. As soon as you come across a phrase or word you don’t understand, look it up and repeat it to yourself several times.

My Experience as a Swedish Exchange Student at Chatham University

By Delphine Mubiligi, Exchange Student at Chatham University

Before coming to Chatham University, I had no idea what to expect. I had no previous knowledge about the University, nor Pittsburgh. The few assumptions I had built throughout the years about college life in America, were all shaped by the way students were portrayed in Hollywood movies. Chatham have proved to be very different from the crazy-party-student-life-image presented by the movie industry. The campus might be a bit small and quiet, but it is cozy and filled with warm and friendly people. There are many fun and interesting activities that make getting to know other students easy.

Before coming to Chatham University, I had no idea what to expect. I had no previous knowledge about the University, nor Pittsburgh. The few assumptions I had built throughout the years about college life in America, were all shaped by the way students were portrayed in Hollywood movies. Chatham have proved to be very different from the crazy-party-student-life-image presented by the movie industry. The campus might be a bit small and quiet, but it is cozy and filled with warm and friendly people. There are many fun and interesting activities that make getting to know other students easy.

The students here at Chatham are very friendly, open-minded and willing to help other fellow students, when needed. The environment is very relaxed. Students can dress however they please and be themselves, without being judged. People respect each other and also the quiet hours. The fact that there are no big parties organised in the dorms makes it a good place to concentrate on the workload and making academic progress.

After spending nearly four months in USA, I have gained a lot of theoretical and practical knowledge. Studying abroad has enabled me to improve, not only my English skills, but also my problem-solving skills and cross-cultural communication skills. I have had the opportunity to interact and connect with American students and staff, as well as students from different parts of the world, which have enabled me to make this progress.

When talking to other exchanges students at Chatham University, I have come to realise that many of us share a common fear. This is not an all too serious fear, yet it raises concern amongst many international students. Many are concerned of returning to their countries of origin, not being the same people as they left. Many go through changes, often times positive changes, yet, they fear that it might take a while for some friends back home to get used these changes.

My experiences so far have been very positive. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to experience Chatham while it is still regarded as a female college. I have meet many inspiring young ladies here. I have also learned much about notable female academics and writers that have inspired and will continue to inspire women for generations to come. Although Chatham University will cease to be an all-female college, I strongly believe that it will remain a great place to advance academically and as an individual.