Incoming international students have a welcome return to campus to look forward to

Rayna Song, Senior Staffer

Over the past year, international students have faced unique challenges, from struggling to get limited flight tickets to taking online classes in different time zones. With the return of in-person classes this fall, many international students will return to Evanston, and for some, it will be their first time on campus.

On June 24, the U.S. Department of State issued a statement saying that F-1 and M-1 students will be allowed to enter the U.S. with a valid visa despite COVID-19-related travel bans. 

The Office of International Student and Scholar Services offers many resources to international students, ranging from guidance about traveling to the U.S. to help with filing taxes. Each international student at NU is assigned a specific advisor within the office. 

International Student Orientation will take place online this year and is scheduled to begin on Sept. 11. During ISO, international students will meet the OISS team and gain a better understanding of the F-1 or J-1 immigration status. They will also meet other students from all over the globe, as approximately 10 percent of Northwestern undergraduate students come from outside of the U.S. International students also have the option of moving in on Sept. 8 rather than Sept. 11, although there is an early move-in fee. 

Medill junior Sami Berisha, who is on the executive board of ISO, said ISO is planned to be entirely online this fall since many international students may not have been vaccinated upon their arrival at NU.

“The purpose of ISO is to essentially just welcome incoming international freshmen to campus and provide almost like a family, a group of people that the internationals will know coming to Northwestern,” Berisha said.

Berisha, who was an international peer advisor last year, said his group of incoming freshmen have become close friends. During ISO, international students learn about living in the U.S. while participating in social activities where they could meet people outside of their IPA groups.

Berisha is also one of the co-presidents of International Student Association, a student organization which hopes to offer a community to international students at NU.

“The role that ISA plays in the international student community is just one where we can come together, congregate, have fun, meet each other, have social activities, but also raise awareness about our countries and our cultures and share that with other people,” he said.

Berisha added that ISA also raises awareness about topics American students might not be very conscious of, such as humanitarian issues in other countries.

Weinberg freshman Peter Lau is currently in his hometown of Shenzhen, China. He said he plans on flying to the U.S. in early September. Lau said nonstop flights between China and Chicago are scarce due to COVID-19, and he has been looking for layover flights. Since he attended high school in the U.S., Lau said he does not have to seek a new visa.

Lau said he is excited about ISO and Wildcat Welcome because of the opportunity to meet people with whom he will spend the next four years.

“Life at Northwestern at this unique mid- or post-pandemic time is quite an unknown for me,” Lau said. “I don’t really know what to feel at this very moment, but I’m quite excited.”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @RaynaYu_Song 

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