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 Makes a Successful International Program?

By Debra Wolf, Associate Professor of Nursing, Assistant Director of Nursing Programs, Healthcare Informatics Coordinator

International MSN Students, 2016
International MSN Students, 2016

The success of any educational program begins with the visionary leader who plants the seed of exploring new opportunities and continues with dedicated faculty and staff who nurture the seed until life appears. The International Master in Nursing Program offered by the Nursing Department within the School of Health Sciences (SHS) at Chatham University has been very successful thanks to the vision and leadership of several individuals and departments at Chatham University. Visionary leaders such as Dr. Barazzone and Dr. Wenying Xu from administration who supported the idea from conception to implementation. Leaders such as Dr. Hunker and Dr. Spadaro from the nursing department who have been working endlessly to make the vision a reality. Finally, leadership from the Office of International Affairs, whose knowledge and experience in foreign affairs and English language instruction, has been instrumental in helping the students arrive safely and housed appropriately and receive the English support that they need during their advanced scientific study at Chatham.

In Fall of 2016, the nursing department admitted its third cohort of Chinese nurses from Shanghai into the Master of Science in Nursing Program. To date the department has successfully graduated 29 students from the program in the span of 2 years.

Collaborative interprofessional team work has been a critical aspect of the international program. The faculty and staff within the nursing program continue to support the program on a regular basis.  For example, faculty frequently guest lecture in the classroom, offering content focused on their scholarly work and expertise. Faculty meet 1:1 with students to further support them on an individual basis, offering detailed support if students’ interest is closely related to the faculty’s scholarly agenda. Faculty and staff have taken time out of their day to accompany the international nurses to campus events (during day, night and weekends), introducing them to our culture and celebrations.

Nursing faculty and staff collectively go out of their way to make the students feel comfortable and welcomed in America, for this is the first time most of the nurses have been to the United States. For example, one staff member’s son made personalized welcome signs illustrating the American and Chinese flags for each nurse. Another created poster boards illustrating their names and photos to welcome the students. Another faculty invited the entire cohort to spend the night at their camp and provided tents, sleeping bags and all the other necessities. Finally, the department sponsors a welcome and Chinese New Year reception for the students inviting other departments within the SHS.

As the program continues to grow so does the support from Chatham University, not only from faculty and staff, but also from our graduate students. Most recently a call for graduate students in the SHS to be part of a Peer Partnering Program, a program to match a Chinese nurse with a graduate student in the SHS for socialization, was initiated with great response and success.  Chinese nurses in past cohorts shared their need to socialize more with other American students to better understand our culture.  The peers meet independently on a weekly to biweekly basis or as time permits to explore each other’s culture. Seeds were planted and friendships are growing!

As the program continues to grow, the department is preparing for Cohort #4 in fall 2017, which will require additional revisions and changes. Although change is not easy, having dedicated individuals who are open to new ideas and willing to assist and go the extra mile is what has and will continue to make this program a success. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child. It takes a University to graduate an international student.  Thanks to all the individuals and departments (not mentioned above) who have been a part of this program’s success. We could not have done it without you.

Competitiveness, Motivation, and Opportunities in Language Learning

By Linh Phung, English Language Program Director

Vietnamese Ao Dai
Vietnamese Ao Dai

I started to learn English in middle school in Vietnam when I was 11 years old. My class specialized in English, so I had more English lessons than any other subjects. During my middle school and high school years, I was extremely competitive and determined to be the top student in class, and so I studied with great intensity. I maintained my number one ranking throughout my high school years and won a third prize in the national English contest, which allowed me to choose a university to attend without having to take the much-feared national entrance exam to universities. I chose the College of Foreign Languages at Vietnam National University to continue my specialization in English. In college, I had more opportunities to communicate orally in English through class discussions, debates, and presentations. However, I was still very exam-oriented. I spent a significant amount of time on studying test preparation books, including TOEFL and IELTS, because course exams were often similar to the exercises in those books. In addition, I listened to the news on BBC or VOA, watched American movies, and read English magazines, few authentic materials that I could find in Vietnam at the time.

With high scores in the TOEFL and GRE tests, I moved on to do a Masters degree in the U.S. My language development continued through interactions with others in English. During my MA, reading articles in the field was difficult because of the new content, as was following group discussions. I was mostly quiet in the first year of my MA. I knew I needed to continue to improve my English. I found chatting useful, so I made friends online and chatted often. I also watched popular TV shows like Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond. When I had to write papers for classes, I spent time reading and taking detailed notes. I earned As in all but three classes because of my papers.

Now as a professional living in the U.S., I use English comfortably for a variety of purposes. I know that my English is still changing as I continue to learn new words and learn new ways to talk about certain topics in my field and relate to other people. I have more confidence in many professional circles, and I’m more outspoken. I’ve never made it my purpose to sound like a native speaker, but I do wonder how my English will evolve after years of living in the U.S.

Looking back, I realize that my competitiveness gave me motivation to study English, and my motivation pushed me to seek more authentic and interesting materials in English than any of the classes at school or in college could provide me. Apart from classroom work, these materials fostered my love for English and developed my skills beyond doing mechanical exercises. In language learning, practice (in the sense of doing exercises) alone does not make perfect. Reading and listening to interesting materials and using English to communicate ideas makes perfect!

It Was Not Expected: A Reflection on the U.S. Presidential Election Result

By Chris Musick, Associate Vice President for International Affairs

Chatham Students' Walkout on November 2016
Chatham Students’ Walkout in November 2016

“Shock” might be the best word to summarize the result of the United States presidential election.

While many people in the United States are feeling optimistic about the next four years, many others are feeling targeted. The xenophobic and vitriolic statements made by the US president elect have caused anxiety among different nationalities, racial and religious groups, and genders in the United States and abroad. There is a legitimate fear that the president elect’s words have empowered hate groups in the United States. There have been reports in the United States of increased episodes of racist graffiti and harassing verbal attacks on minority groups.

Emotions have run high across the United States in the days following the election. Many students at Chatham have openly expressed their disillusion, confusion, anxiety about the future. Faculty and staff have been contemplating the implications and ways to provide support to students.

There have been open forums at Chatham in which students expressed their thoughts, feelings and concerns. There have been on-going, mostly non-violent, protests across the country and in Pittsburgh. Chants of “Not my president!” are heard. As I write this, a 15-minute “walk out” is planned by Chatham students at 3 pm to establish Chatham as a “sanctuary campus.”

Dr. David Finegold, President of Chatham University, wrote in a statement to the campus community the day after the election:

“Regardless of what happens in our daily politics, I hope that here at Chatham we can continue to focus on our core values: gender equality, inclusiveness and acceptance, dialogue and civic engagement, and the pursuit of a more just and sustainable world. That is the community we want to create and the values we seek to foster in the classroom, on campus, and that we hope our students carry with them after graduation. Over Chatham’s nearly 150 years, we have persevered through many profound political transitions and societal changes, and I’m hopeful that we and the country will weather this one too.”

International students have been witness to an unusual American election. They are seeing both good and bad traits of the United States. The experience is educational and is one they will long remember.

The new president of the United States will take office on January 20, 2017. As an educational community, we look forward to learning about the changes to come. Chatham will continue to be an accepting environment for all students regardless of nationality, religious beliefs, gender orientation, race or political orientation. We are a community in which ideas are shared in a tolerant environment that is supportive of human dignity and equality.

Chatham will continue to provide the highest quality education to international students in a safe and protective environment.

Many Languages, One World

By Oksana Moroz, ELP Lecturer, Fulbright Recipient

Oksana Moroz and Linh Phung at the Second Language Research Forum, September 2016, Columbia University, New York
Oksana Moroz and Linh Phung at the Second Language Research Forum, September 2016, Columbia University, New York

Five languages plus one person equals the world of friendship and opportunities. This simple equation describes who I am and what I gained with the help of my language skills.  I believe that global citizenship and cultural understanding can be achieved with the help of languages. Being a teacher of English as an additional language myself, I strongly agree that languages are powerful tools in discovering the world around us and critically reflecting on the concepts whirling everywhere in the world.  My main goal as a language teacher is to produce responsible citizens, who are fully competent language users, critical thinkers, and social change agents.

My first English language textbook series that I really liked as a student was called Opportunities. Since that time, the word “opportunity” has been one of my favorite words in English because it succinctly describes how I feel about the English language and its global significance. During my undergraduate studies at university, I realized that I wanted to research English language teacher identity formation and gender’s influence on it. Since then, I have been trying to achieve needed competencies and skills in the sphere of teacher education. Working with people, tutoring kids in English, and volunteering are my favorite activities.

To summarize, I believe that the Ukrainian phrase “the more languages you know, the more times you are a person,” is vivid, self-explanatory wisdom that can be applied to any person in the world. My experience has proved that being multilingual is a way to achieve cross-cultural understanding, creativity, innovation, collaboration, teamwork, and critical consciousness. I would like to stress the role of the teacher in the process of acquiring global citizenship and cross-cultural understanding. Teacher’s linguistic and instructional skills and intercultural competence greatly matter, so that the glocal (global plus local) needs of the students are met.

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!

Celebrate International Education Week 2016

Chatham University is pleased to celebrate International Education Week 2016.  The dates for International Education Week 2016 are November 14-18, 2016.


International Education Week (IEW) is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education is part of our efforts to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences.

We invite you to join in this year’s IEW events:

Sunday, November 13, 6:30 pm, Working Through the Borders, a discussion of personal conservation efforts and global sustainability, Welker Room

 Monday, November 14, 7 pm, International Karaoke Night, Café Rachel

 Tuesday, November 15, 11:30am-2 pm, Office of International Affairs Open House, Falk and Coolidge, lower level.

 Wednesday, November 16, 12 noon, Lunch and Learn: Peace Corps, Carriage House

 Thursday, November 17, 7:30 pm – 8:45 pm, Global Focus Year of Canada All Campus Author Speaker:  Gayle Anne McKenzie, Chapel

 Friday, November 18, 11:30 am – late, Light Up Night, downtown Pittsburgh

For more information please contact or visit us at the Office of International Affairs in Falk Hall, lower level.

Living with a Cuban family by Juliet Casinelli

This past summer, through Chatham University and the Vira I. Heinz Program for Women in Global Leadership, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Havana, Cuba. From the beautiful brush, to the 1950’s cars, the genuine and generous Cubans, and the delicious food, I spent weeks falling in love with a culture we know so little about. Cuba sits just 90 miles off the coast of Florida but has become a much more distant land to citizens of the United States because of political differences.

Old Havana

While in Cuba, I studied five days a week at the Universidad de La Habana, where I attended intensive Spanish language courses and met students from around the world. Alongside school, I traveled up and down the country, attended salsa lessons, partook in cooking lessons, visited the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, met local artist and authors, and last but at the very least stayed with a host family who started as strangers and my second family. Though I am not fluent in Spanish, I used what I knew and was learning and built relationships I know will last a lifetime. Through this occasion I came to understand differences are only hindrances if you allow them to be.

Juliet and her Cuban host family

The highlight of my trip was staying with a host family. I say this because through this opportunity, I could really delve into the Cuban culture and avoid being a tourist. My host family provided both breakfast and dinner for me and I was responsible for my own lunch. Sharing these meals allowed us to cook together and explore the differences our cultures have in food. Eating means cooking and because of this I learned how to make homemade mayonnaise and flan, both incredible and staples in Cuba. Meals were shared together and coffee was sipped out of china and not a plastic to-go cup, because meals in Cuba mean community. My host family and I explored the city of Havana and Malecon, where many people hang out, eat, fish and listen to music. My favorite nights however, were spent at our home where we stayed in talked about the history of Cuba, played card games, watched the Olympics and worked on both Spanish and English. My host family will forever be a part of my life, they truly are my second family, from taking care of me while I had an ear infection to teaching me how to use public transportation, they made my experience so great.  If you study abroad, stay with a host family, it is as much of an experience for them as it is for you.

Though I have since returned to the United States, my experience in Cuba left me with ideas to think about and emotions to try to understand. Right now, I am not sure how my time in Cuba will play a role in my career but I know this experience and traveling has helped me mature, grow more patient, and truly appreciate the opportunity for the education and lifestyle I have been raised in.

Chatham University is a very diverse university where we are encouraged to study and explore many different clubs, classes, and opportunities. With this support, especially through Chatham’s study abroad office, I went to Cuba with a mindset and attitude that allowed me to really make the most of my time abroad. I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to fall in with a beautiful nation.

When will you study abroad?  For more information about study abroad options, scholarship opportunities or the study abroad process, please contact or visit us at the Office of International Affairs in Falk Hall, lower level.

International Certificates and up to $3000 in voucher funding

You may know that Chatham offers an undergraduate degree in International Studies through the Department of History, Political Science and International Studies.

Did you also know that students who are majoring in other subjects may earn an international regional certificate by taking the courses required for a regional concentration? The International Certificate is offered in five regions of the world: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.

In addition to demonstrating that a student has studied the history, language, culture, politics and language of a region, the certificate requires firsthand experience studying and or interning in the region for 6 to 12 credits.

Christin Cook completed a semester abroad in Thailand

The certificates consist of at least 18 credits and include language courses or proficiency, content courses including an introduction to the history of the region, and 6-12 credits of study abroad and/or internship abroad.

Students who complete 50% of the requirements are eligible for up to $3000 in study abroad vouchers toward their study or internship abroad. If students choose their study abroad program carefully, this voucher funding could go a long way toward covering study abroad tuition and expenses.

Bethany Bookout, summer 2016 in Taiwan

Students can add an International Certificate to any major. For example, one could be a Biology major with an Africa Certificate or a Communication major with a Latin America Certificate. These are just examples of the many combinations of major/certificate you could choose.

When will you study abroad?  For more information on the International Certificate, please contact Dr. Lou Martin,  For more information on study abroad options to fulfill your certificate requirements, please contact International Affairs, or visit us at the Office of International Affairs in Falk Hall, lower level.

ELP Referral Program

Chatham University English Language Program Referral Program:

Any current Chatham University student who refers a student to the English Language Program may be eligible to receive a $50 gift card. Once a student applies, is accepted, and pays their deposit, the referrer will receive an email on how to receive their Gift card.

How to refer someone to the Chatham ELP:

  1. Tell your family and friends about Chatham English Language Program.
  1. When they apply to the ELP, there is a question that asks:

“How did you find out about us?”

They should select “Family/Friend”.

  1. The next question asks for referral information. In order to be eligible for the $50, they must put a current Chatham University students’ name and Chatham email (
  1. Once the application is complete, the ELP will review the application for admission. If they are admitted to the ELP, they should pay the $150 tuition deposit. This is not an additional fee- this is part of the tuition charge.
  1. When a new ELP student deposits, the referrer will receive notification of their $50 gift card and can come to the ELP to pick it up.


  • Only current Chatham University students are eligible for the $50 gift card if they have referred someone to the ELP.
  • Only new ELP applicants can submit a referral.
  • ELP applicants can only put one name in the referral section.
  • If a ELP applicant does not deposit, their referrer will not receive the $50 gift card.
  • Gift cards will be available the first week of classes.

Questions? Please contact or call 412 365 1388.

Chatham University