How Can I Help International Students?
by Timothy Shea
Remember when you went off to college or university and had to figure out how to survive- whether it was finding the cheapest grocery store, the best place to do your laundry, or how to get along with your roommate? Now imagine you have to do all this in a language that is not yours and in a culture that doesn’t make sense. That can be what it is like for a new international student in an American university. No matter what stage in life you are, there are many ways you can help to make the American educational experience a rewarding one for students who come to UVA from about 100 countries. Here are a few suggestions:
o Invite a few students for a home cooked meal. No matter how simple the meal may seem, it ALWAYS trumps anything served in the dining hall!
o Give rides to the supermarket, the mall, a bike shop, the airport. Most students do not have access to a car and public transportation is limited and even expensive and simply offering a ride for errands can be a huge help.
o International students are often unsure about their English skills, especially in an academic setting. Offering to edit and help them revise their papers can help them understand some of the conventions of scholarly writing.
o Some students need practice communicating orally, whether it’s for a formal job interview or to become friends. Meeting with a student over coffee and conversation you can not only help them improve their communication but also make a friend!
o Go for a hike. Take them shopping. Go bowling, ice skating, or fishing. Visit
As you spend time with these students, get to know more about their country and culture. Ask them what they do for fun, their favorite foods, their holidays, what they miss most. The more you show them that you care about them, the more likely their time in the