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  • 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

  • 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.

  • All about that slang, y'all

    You're here to study, but you're also here to pick up American culture. Culture is deeply embedded in language, especially slang, colloquialisms, and regionalisms. Make the most of your time at U of I by upping your slang game.

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • Did you get the $2 Lattes at Espresso Royale this Wednesday?

  • 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!

     

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • Name An Amino Acid, Get A Candy!

  • Winter is Coming (Nah, No Game of Thrones References)!

  • 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: 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...

  • 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...

  • 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: 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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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: The International Career Certificate Program

    By Qianyu (Margaret) Cheng

    Hi everyone, welcome back! How was your Winter break? We are now on a brand new page: 2015. I'm looking forward to the start of Spring semester.

    There is a really significant event every semester: the career fair. Some of you may already have heard about it before, and we had several blogs about career fair too. I personally also went to a career fair, but I also realized how hard it was for an international student like me to find a full time job or even a internship. I am new to this culture, this language, and many other aspects. How can I stand out in many other candidates and get the position I want?

    Last semester, I learned about International Career Certificate program in ISSS newsletter. I heard about the program a lot, and that it was especially designed for helping international student succeed in job market. Since I recently met some difficulties in job hunting...

  • Student Blogger: Moving Off-campus, Taking on more responsibility

    By Qianyu (Margaret) Cheng

    Finally, at the moment when I signed my contract for the apartment, I was so excited and looking forward to the brank new life of living in apartment with three roommates. After tiring apartment hunting and roommates searching, we got to settle down and moved in.

    Before the life in apartment, I lived in resident hall for a whole year since freshman is required to live in dorm. I spent the first year of my UI life in Busey-Evan, one of the university resident halls. The dorm is comfortable and relaxing place for students to take a rest and it feels like my home, and I met lots of friends (actually most of my friends) there. The dining hall, computer lab and library are also provided in the dorm, which is convenient and easy to use. Doing homework in library is my favorite activity. In the dorm, the resident assistants and multicultural advocates are always there to help. What’s more, I love the grand piano in the lounge. Although I don’t play piano, it is always enjoyable to listen to it when others are playing that.

    In the second semester of my freshman year...

  • 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...

     

  • Staying Healthy to Stay Productive

  • Student Blogger: Thinking about Life after College

    It is like all of a sudden, and I have been a blogger for almost one year. I am so thankful and proud to be an IOSL and a ISSS blogger in my college year. This experience is one of the best things I have ever done in my college year.

    Time goes fast, and it is about the end of spring semester, which means that I will be a senior next semester. I am happy that I have only one year to go, but also, at this point of my life, I begin to think about my life after college.

    I am not an early bird, lots of my peers, especially international students, have been planning for their future way ahead. My roommate is studying for GRE: a standard test like SAT or ACT that you need a nice score for applying for some of the graduate schools, or GMAT, if you are in non-STEM majors. For some of my friends...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • Overcoming the “Why Am I Here” Mentality of Freshman Year

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • College Life Hacks at UIUC

    I’d like to present to you College Life Hacks, where I gather 5 hacks that I wish I would’ve known earlier. Sharing is caring, so feel free to add anything you like to say below and keep this article updated!

  • 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: Using the Library

    University of Illinois is known for its library system. Ranked the second largest among Universities in the United States, the U of I library system is only bested by Harvard. So proud of being a U of I student! I always feel like I am in a paradise of books and resources. There are several aspects of library in U of I that I like.

    First of all, if you want to find somewhere...

  • "Hailstorms" Around the World

  • Student Blogger: Monday with Ellen DeGeneres

    By Margaret Cheng

    If you were walking on the Quad in the afternoon of Monday, February 25, you would have witnessed thousands of people on the grass, and some of them were even dressed like characters from movies. What made people so crazy on a day full of class? What made so many people wait on the Quad with interesting customs? What made some professors dismiss their lectures early to let students have the opportunity to be on the Quad? The answer is: Ellen Degeneres!

    After Ellen posted several tweets about a big surprise on Monday...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • My Pre-Completion OPT Experiences

  • Campus Resources: The IOSL Program and La Casa Cultural Latina

    By Liaohan (David) He -- IOSL

    ISSS Blog Administrator’s Note:

    The International Orientation Student Leaders program is a unique leadership and employment training opportunity, made possible through a partnership between International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) and New Student Programs (NSP). We are currently recruiting for the 2015-2016 IOSL cohort and we invite all Illinois undergraduate students to apply. The position is not limited to international students as domestic students with a strong understanding of the international student population are invited to apply. For more information, please visit: http://isss.illinois.edu/involved/iosl.html.

    Liaohan (David) He is a currently serving in the 2014-2015 IOSL cohort. The blog post below is edited excerpts from his description of the experience, reprinted here with his permission. The campus resource scavenger hunt he mentions was part of the Spring 2014 IOSL training.

    I have come so far since March. It turns out that I did not know the school that well. There are millions of things to be discovered, fun and educational at the same time! I want to share all this information with all the international students to help them feel warm and at home [at the University of Illinois], just as I felt through the IOSL program.

    This is the best work opportunity I have discovered so far on campus. I had the chance to...

  • All About that Slang - Part Three: Sprots!

    All About that Slang - Part Three: Sprots!

    This week we're taking a look at American English slang from American sports. Don't love sports? Don't worry, these expressions can be used in almost any setting.......

  • How to Avoid Scams That Target International Students

  • Student Blogger: Homesickness and how to Cope

    By Qianyu (Margaret) Chen

    Hi everyone! Welcome to the ISSS blog again! :) This week I'll be talking about my experience as an international student of going through homesickness. Now I am okay with the balance of school and contact with family, but when I first came to U.S., after a period of excitement, I started to feel a sense of homesick. After some time to adjust, I overcome most of it and I would like to share with you all.

    First of all, it was hard for me to figure out the time differences. There are 13 hours differences from my hometown to United States, so normally when it was afternoon and I wanted to chat with my parents or friends in my high school, they were all sleeping since it was early morning for them. And when my parents got up and was ready to call me, it was time for me to do homework. At first...

  • “Falling” in Love with Champaign-Urbana

  • Student Blogger: My experience at International Week

    By Qianyu (Margaret) Cheng

    After a whole week of relaxing spring break, we finally embrace the second half of the spring semester. Finally the snow disappears and sunshine comes out, indicating the arrival of spring. In the meantime, this is a special time on campus. The international week, as well as other cultural events right after the spring break, brought us a brand new experience of the global world.

    From March 31 to April 6, 2014, UIUC celebrates international weeks. First time that I knew about this special week...

  • Student Blogger: Join the Conversation and Make Some Friends

    By Qianyu (Margaret) Cheng

    Discussing is going on.

    The topic is about “how to make friends”… And every one seems to have a lot to say. They are talking, joking, laughing, and sharing their points of view, except me.

    To be honest....

  • All About that Slang - Part Four: Abreevs!

    All About that Slang - Part Four: Abreevs!

    This week we're taking a look at American English slang based on abreevs (or abbreviations).......

  • Student Blogger: Thinking in your native language and overcoming communication gaps

    By Qianyu (Margaret) Cheng

    Hey everyone! It's me, Margaret again. It's so nice to see you all. For those who are new here, welcome to the U of I! My name is Qianyu Cheng (but I also go by Margaret). I was born and raised in Hangzhou, China, and I am a junior majoring in Actuarial Science. As an International Student Orientation Leader (IOSL), I greeted freshman and transfer students at the beginning of the semester. I will also be your blogger for International Student and Scholar Services Blog for the rest of year! I am so excited to share my stories and tips with everyone!

    As an international student whose native language is not English, I experienced lots of communication gaps when I first came to U.S. After a 13 hour flight, when I finally got to the Chicago O’Hare Airport and waited for the bus to come to Champaign, I was so tired and hungry. Yet I didn't go to the nearest McDonald to buy anything because I was afraid of talking and making mistakes when I ordered food. 

    As soon as I got to U.S...