Office of International Programs and Services Plans Special Events to Welcome New Students

Posted: August 18, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

“Adjusting to college life can be difficult for all students, but even more so for students who come from another country,” says Julia Findlay, director of the Office of International Programs and Services. With that concern uppermost, OIPS is preparing to welcome a new set of visiting students from abroad with a series of events to familiarize them with the university and the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

“Not only do the students have to find their way around campus, find a place to live, register for classes, and buy books, they also have to get used to American culture, the U.S. academic system, a new currency and system of banking, the food, the weather, the language—including slang—and so much more. On top of that, they may be homesick and too far away to connect to loved ones easily,” explains Findlay.

“We know that the first few days and weeks are the hardest, so we try hard to plan activities that will help our students settle in and make friends and feel that their decision to come to George Mason was a good one.”

The centerpiece of the OIPS welcome program is its mandatory orientation for all new international students, which will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 23. In addition to introducing students to one another and to the OIPS staff, the event provides students with valuable information on the range of OIPS and university services, including student clubs and activities.

They also learn about George Mason’s health services, immunization requirements, and the Honor Code. Finally, students are informed of the latest immigration and visa rules and regulations, and they find out how to obtain work on or off campus and how to get a driver’s license.

On Aug. 24 and 25, OIPS staff will meet individually with international students who are required to register with the U.S. government through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, in accordance with U.S. Department of Homeland Security requirements.

In partnership with the Friends in Deed host family program, a private organization, the OIPS will host a welcome reception on Aug. 26 at 6 p.m. in the Johnson Center Bistro.

At 8 p.m. that evening, OIPS staff will lead the D.C. Nightlife Tour to introduce new students to the capital’s entertainment scene. Before going to dinner and visiting one of the city’s many bars or clubs, students will be shown how to use the Metro. Participants must be over 21 and should bring about $20 and a photo ID.

On Aug. 27, OIPS will take interested students, faculty and office staff around Washington, D.C., in a tour bus, which will leave at 12:15 p.m. from the front of the Finley Building. This fieldtrip serves as a cultural introduction to the city and its rich history. To participate, sign up in the OIPS office.

Findlay encourages members of the George Mason community to participate in the activities welcoming new international students. “One of our goals as an office is to offer a welcoming, supportive, and professional environment in which to help our international population integrate with the broader community,” she says.

OIPS is in the process of hiring a new coordinator for programs and outreach, a position that will allow the office to expand its range of programs and activities offered to international students.

For more information on OIPS, visit its web site.

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