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  • Unofficial: What's it all about?

    By Amira Al Mutairi and Jennifer Avery

    As you walk down the street this Friday (3/7) through a crowd of partying college students, it may be hard to believe that the roots of their celebration can be found in a Christian holiday to commemorate the life of the best known patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick, as well as the arrival of Christianity to Ireland.

    The celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in the United States dates back to the 18th century. Though the holiday’s origins were religious, celebrations in the USA have, since their inception, been focused primarily on the cultural aspect of the holiday. Many people show their holiday spirit by dressing in green, drinking green beverages, eating green food and watching parades that highlight Irish heritage and culture. In cities where there is a large Irish/Irish-American population, the celebrations are even more elaborate. Chicago, for example...

  • Student Blogger: Being Open to New Experiences

    We have a new student blogger at ISSS and we're very excited to introduce her! Qianyu Cheng will be blogging with us this Spring and sharing her experiences as a sophomore at U of I.

    By Qianyu Cheng

    Hi! My name is Qianyu. I am a sophomore major in Actuarial Science at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and I am an international student from China.

    As a student in University of Illinois, it is easy to discover the cultural diversity on campus. When I was in high school, all my classmates are from the same town. We all grow up in the same city and share the similar experience. So when I first found out about the diversity...

  • Student Blogger: Balancing Work and Play

    By Bentic Sebastian

    Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”

    Thomas Merton

    College life has sometimes been tough for me. At times, I frequently spent a large fraction of my time struggling to focus on my assignments and readings. In high school, after a tiring day in class, I would come back home, sit down at my upright piano, and play my favorite songs. Looking back, when I felt frustrated or stuck, I would use that negative energy to create new music at the piano. Things changed in college.

    At college, I couldn’t find a way to to play the piano regularly, because the opportunity to find an unoccupied piano was limited. There was a piano or two in the student halls, but I was always wary of playing so loudly that...

  • Student Blogger: Building Trust and Having Ambition creates Leadership

    By Bentic Sebastian

    Back in high school, I had been involved in many activities, and my friends in school identified me with those activities. I was a member of a high school band, and my friends knew that I was quite good at playing the piano, because they had heard me play and seen me take part in competitions. But at UIUC, up to a certain extent, what I did in high school didn’t matter. I had to prove myself again. Although this seemed difficult and tedious, I took it as an opportunity to be identified as the type of person I wanted to be! I wanted to prove to myself that I could be a leader at my university.

    I started my search for leadership positions...

  • Student Blogger: Tech-ify your College Experience

    By Bentic Sebastian

    I have benefited greatly from using technology as a student. Technology is essential for success in college. But I only learnt how to use technology effectively by trial and error, and I could not find help from anywhere. I hope that after reading this post, you will learn how to use the powers of technology to your advantage at college!

    Problem: In my first semester, I was really excited about my schedule which I chose completely on my own! In order to find my classes, I used the paper map we were provided during Welcome Week. Regardless of how well made the map was, it still took me time to locate the building I wanted to get to, and find out how to get there. Since it was just a single sheet of paper, I frequently lost my map when I really needed it. I tried to fold it up...

  • Hello Fall!

    By Nicole Vernon

    Hello Fall!

    Fall has officially arrived! The weather is cool and the leaves are changing to a beautiful mix of orange, red, and yellow. Food choices also indicate that Fall has arrived– many coffee shops start offering Pumpkin Spice lattes, pumpkin flavored coffees or foods, Apple Cider (hot or cold) is available in stores, and apple orchards are...

  • Student Blogger: Freshman 15

    By Bentic Sebastian

    The first time my dad and I went to the PAR dining hall, we were both astounded! I could eat whatever I wanted. My dad was amazed at the stir-fry counter, the burrito corner, and the dessert options. When I asked him what he thought about how frequently I should eat, he replied “As often as you feel like”. I loved the dining halls but I wasn’t prepared for how I would face the idea of a buffet almost every single day. And that was the beginning of my Freshman 15!

    If you haven’t heard of Freshmen 15, this is an important phase that freshmen or other new students go through, especially in the United States. Freshman 15 refers to...

  • Student Blogger: Mini Party with an Open Door!

    By Bentic Sebastian

    Leaving my home for another country for further study was daunting for me , because I felt unsure about whether I would find friends as understanding as my friends back home. As an international student, I came to the university knowing nobody in my first year. Missing the whole week of Welcome Week didn’t help either, as I didn’t get a chance to see my future classmates, and I couldn’t sign up for the student clubs at Quad Day either.

    I came to my dorm on the day before classes started, and there wasn’t really time for me to meet the other students on my floor. I was very excited to see so many new people at university, but I was also anxious because...

  • Top 10 Reasons to meet your Academic Advisor

    This week, we're excited to bring you a guest post from Jenni Kotowski, Academic Advisor in the Division of General Studies (DGS).

    By Jenni Kotowski

    There are a number of good reasons to meet with your academic advisor on a regular basis. Besides the fact that your academic advisor can help talk about which classes to take in the upcoming semester; your advisor can discuss...

  • Student Blogger: A Truly Global Home

    By Bentic Sebastian

    When I was a freshman, I had a tough time choosing a dorm to live in. I did some research, and I finally decided to stay in PAR(Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Halls). Among many popular reasons (the great food being one of them), I wanted to stay at an LLC, which stands for a Living Learning Community. An LLC is a community of students who share a common interest, a theme of sorts. As a new international student, I found it beneficial to stay in an LLC, because I was able to make some good friends immediately after coming to the university. There are about eight LLCs to choose from in different dorms at the university. I chose to live in Global Crossroads.

    Global Crossroads is a Living Learning community in PAR. We lived on the second and third floor of Saunders Hall (one of the four halls in PAR). Our theme was the culture and customs of the various countries around the world. My LLC was special to me because...

  • Student Blogger: Making Great Conversations at University

    By Bentic Sebastian

    When I came to the University of Illinois, I was the only student from my high school who was studying here. During the first few weeks, it was quite difficult for me to enjoy my new college life partly because I did not know anybody yet. Sometimes, I felt so homesick that I thought that people I saw on Green Street looked like my close friends back home. However, being new to the US presented an opportunity for me to meet and learn about people who grew up in a different culture from me. It was now up to me to start meeting new people and gradually forming strong friendships during my years here.

    Since I was from a different country, I faced a lot of difficulties in making good conversations because I was quite self-conscious about my accent. As you know, about 32,000 undergraduates study at our university. That’s a lot of students, and potential friends! I decided to improve my conservation by...

     

  • Welcome back!

    By Afroza Faruque

    Hello again everyone! After a long hiatus, the ISSS Blog is ready to go again. We'd like to welcome all new students to campus and to the U of I family - we're so happy to have you here! If you were at New Student Check-in, you'll realize that we are welcoming a large group of international students from all over the world. If you're curious about how many international students we have here...

  • Student Blogger: Winter, snow, and thermal gloves!

    Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.
    C. S. Lewis

    As an international student, before I came to college, I had never experienced icy winters. I was used to hot and humid weather, and part of the reason why I chose to attend the University of Illinois may have something to do with getting to touch snow for the first time in my life.

    Before I started my freshman year here, I used to imagine what snow would feel like. From what I saw in the media, I imagined that snow was white, soft, and dry. I saw people dancing and running around in the snow, and felt jealous that I couldn’t experience those sensations myself. As I started to learn more about the United States though, I realized that very few people enjoyed winter as much as me.  Frequently, my friends would remind that winters in Champaign

  • Student Blogger: Leave the Jeans at Home

    By Bentic Sebastian

    Career fairs are a major event held on campus. At the career fair, recruiters from all over the country come to the university to recruit the brightest and most talented individuals. There are several career fairs held on campus. Career Fairs are held at different times throughout the year. They are usually held in March and November. It is a very important day for students. By getting selected, their work experiences will be highly valued among companies after they graduate.

    As a freshman, I heard about the career fair through my e-mail, and I was instantly curious about how students like me got selected by recruiters. When I found some free time between classes, I rushed over to the Illini Union, which is a major venue for career fairs. As I approached...

  • Beating the Winter Blues

    By Jessica Young

    Though we don’t get nearly as much snow as some of the more northern states, the months of January and February are still probably my least favorite times of the year in Illinois. The holiday season is over, the school break is over, and it is still cold and dark outside. I strongly dislike scraping ice off my car in the morning and being able to see my breath while I wait for the bus. Not to mention the wind. I hate those cold bursts. Unlike fall, the spring semester really doesn’t do much to welcome you. To counteract these frigid images I decided to take an ISSS poll...

  • Finals: helpful study tips

    By International Orientation Student Leaders

    It's finals time at U of I! This week, our International Orientation Student Leaders share some insights and tips on how to approach studying for finals and keep stress levels at a minimum. Best wishes to everyone!

     

  • Christmas; 'tis the season

    By Adam MacTaggart

    Christmas is celebrated on December 25 around the world as one of the most important Christian holidays. Gifts are exchanged, Christmas music plays in homes and department stores, and people spend time with their families. While the diverse population of the United States means everyone celebrates Christmas a little differently, there are some important features that are widely observed throughout the country...

  • Student Blogger: First Thanksgiving

    By Bentic Sebastian

    Thanksgiving is a holiday which a college student hopefully waits for! In UIUC, the holiday lasts for about 9 days! That’s more than a week of doing anything you want; no deadlines to meet, and no classes to go to!

    I celebrated my first Thanksgiving last year, at my uncle’s house. It took me about three hours to travel to Skokie, a suburb around Chicago. I arrived at around 2pm on the day of Thanksgiving. The house was alive with the sounds of children walking around hurriedly, chattering away about decorations. They had arrived earlier to help with preparing for the celebrations. The excitement was contagious. I freshened up in a matter of minutes, and eagerly went down-stairs to help out.

    We had a number of tasks to complete. The first task was that we were to make sure that the two turkeys in the oven didn't get overcooked. While two of us stood guard at the oven...

  • Career Networking: the inside scoop

    Our post this week is from guest blogger Tori Spring, Assistant Director at the Career Center.

    By Tori Spring

    What is the number one secret of finding a job in the US??   Networking!

    Statistics show that over 75% of jobs are found through networking. Why? Because knowing someone helps you stand out! Think about how similar your resume might look to others in your program. How are you actually going to stand out amongst the hundreds of other resumes? If you’ve talked to someone at your dream company, then they know that you communicate well, are interested in the company, and have the skills for the job. All of a sudden, you are a much better candidate for their job. So stop...

  • Thanksgiving

    By Sondra Schreiber

    As you probably know, Thanksgiving Break is coming up in just a week! But, besides a week off from classes, what does this holiday mean to Americans? The Thanksgiving holiday is unique to the United States and Canada. In the US, Thanksgiving is always celebrated on the third Thursday in November. The history of Thanksgiving is not exactly clear, but it is commonly traced back to a plentiful harvest in 1621 at Plymouth, which is in present day Massachusetts. Most children in the US are taught that at this first Thanksgiving the settlers (called pilgrims) and the Native Americans celebrated the bountiful harvest together by having a feast.

    Today, Thanksgiving is usually celebrated with family and food. It is seen as a time to be thankful for what we have. Food plays a major role in Thanksgiving, especially turkey. Traditionally...

  • Homesickness and ways to cope

    ISSS collaborates with many campus units to better serve our student population. This week, we'd like to share a guest post from the Counseling Center.

    By The Counseling Center

    Feeling homesick can be very natural when someone experiences a sudden change in environment or routine. Living and studying in a country and culture other than your own can certainly cause that change and result in significant stress and isolation. Homesickness is a real issue and you are not alone. Many other students are feeling how you are feeling– it just might not be talked about openly and in depth, but that does not mean you are the only one experiencing it. Homesickness can include sadness...

  • Student Blogger: Academic Adventures

    By Bentic Sebastian

    "Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood." - Marie Curie

    I was a bit frightened about the amount of new material that I would learn about when I came to the University of Illinois, but now I’m enjoying the experiences and learning to make the most of them.

    I feel that my academic life is much better off now than it was last year. I am more organized now. I know how to use office hours properly. And I have some knowledgeable friends who I can discuss concepts and doubts with.

    Last year, I was very confused about how to go about organizing my schedule. In my first semester here...

  • Getting Involved

    By David Zhao

    The number of international students is on the rise and this year we've welcomed close to 3000 new international students to our campus. We have the largest number of international students enrolled amongst all US public institutions, and we've worked hard to address the needs and concerns of the rising international student population. Through our discussions and conversations with students...

  • College Football: why we're such huge fans

    By Stephanie Dvorachek

    It’s Football Season! You may be thinking to yourself, “I thought there were only four seasons – Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. What IS football season?” Football season is time of year starting in late summer and continuing until winter that people love to watch their favorite football teams in action, whether it is College Football, or professional football, otherwise known as the NFL.

    One of the best parts about football season...

  • Halloween: what's it all about?

    By Nicole Vernon

    Halloween is quickly approaching! This holiday has a long history with many traditions and you may even notice that Halloween in the U.S. may resemble some of the same traditions you may participate in during this time of year in your home country. The name itself originated from “All Hallows’ Eve,” the day before All Saints’ Day.    

    Today, in the U.S. Halloween has turned into a community event. It is typical for families to celebrate by dressing their children in costumes and going door to door “trick-or-treating”, where children ask for candy by saying “trick-or-treat!” Each community designates hours that trick-or-treating will be held and also whether it is a one or two day event. Often the designated time falls in the evening and lasts for a couple of hours. Not all families and households participate in trick-or-treating, so those who will pass out candy to trick-or-treaters will leave a light on outside their house as a signal that trick-or-treaters are welcomed...

  • Student Blogger: First Year Experiences

    We'd like to introduce you to our student blogger, Bentic Sebastian. Bentic is a sophomore at the Univeristy of Illinois and is an International Orientation Student Leader. He'll be sharing his thoughts, impressions and experiences about being an international student at the University of Illinois.

    Hey everyone! My name is Bentic, and I am currently a sophomore at the University of Illinois, studying Aerospace Engineering. I am an international student from Dubai.

    In my freshman year, I remember being amazed by the size of the U of I campus! As a person from a high school that consisted of just 3 buildings, it was utterly surprising to me that campuses this large existed! Thelecture halls were huge and some could seat up to 600 people!

    In the United States, I feel that there is a clear distinction between being friendly and being a friend. In general, people would exchange smiles with me and ask me how I’m doing, although we did not know each other at all. It is a general act of politeness that Americans follow. Americans feel that good friendships are developed gradually, by finding out about common interests.

    In the beginning of my freshman year, I felt I had nothing in common with the students around me. In order to get more involved...

  • Fall is here!

    By Afroza Faruque

    Time flies when you’re having fun! And as you finish up the first month of this semester, we hope that you’ve been enjoying yourself. To our new students, we welcome you once again to the U of I and hope that you’re settling into your classes and new home. To our returning students, we hope that you had a wonderful summer – we know it can be hard to come back sometimes! You may have noticed a few major changes to our site that we hope make it easier to find the information you need...

  • The New ISSS Blog

    Welcome to the new ISSS Blog!

    There are some new things going on at ISSS. First of all, you may have noticed that our website has been redesigned. We hope you like the new layout and that it helps you find the information you're looking for quickly.