First weeks back for international students

By Cati Keith

February 14, 2013

Just a week ago, students moved onto campus to either start their new lives or resume their lives here at Lock Haven University.  This semester the campus has again welcomed a new group of international exchange students.  The students come from Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America.

For the international students right now, everything is new; the country, the culture and the university are all a little different than what they are used to in their home nations.

“This campus is much smaller that my university and all the buildings are closer together. At my university the campus is bigger and the buildings are not all in the same area,” said Ashu Harjani from Spain.

These students arrived on campus for the first time last Thursday.  As they dragged their luggage from Akeley to Woolridge, they could only imagine what their lives would be like here.

“I thought the campus was so calm and the structure of the buildings was so pretty,” said Heeju Hwang from South Korea.

They are very far from everything they knew, but they have a desire to experience an adventure and improve themselves. In the evening, when everyone arrived in Woolridge, they began an orientation for the new students. Thursday evening, they enjoyed getting to know each other, and reenergized from their long journeys by eating a small dinner and resting.

Then from Friday to Sunday, the students went to many information sessions in which they received a crash course on how to do everything on campus, and what they need to do in order to survive here as international students. They also learned about American culture and what to expect in their classes.

Harjani said “I was so thankful for orientation because I didn’t know about health insurance, and I could find out about my classes.  It was also a nice way to get to know the other exchange students.”

During orientation, they had the opportunity to experience various types of American cuisine such as Mexican, Chinese, BBQ and s’mores.  The students were also able to enjoy bowling, a Walmart trip, and played other fun games while getting use to their new home.

“The food was delicious, but it is a little saltier and sweeter than I’m used to. Also, I was able to eat Mexican food for the first time, so it was very good,” said Hwang

Then on Monday it was finally time for them to take the information they learned from orientation and apply it to their lives. However, this is much easier said than done.

Imagine what it was like to be a freshman and how anxious you were for the first day. Everything was new; it was probably very nerve-wracking to find classes, and you probably got lost at least once.  Now imagine being in another country and doing all of that. Suddenly it becomes much more difficult.

“Because I’m not good at speaking English, finding my classes was difficult on the first day,” said Hwang.

Luckily these students were able to hold their own and survived their first week on campus. Now the second week is already here and they are on their way to becoming a part of the campus community.

These students have so many exciting opportunities in store for them and hopefully will have a great time in Lock Haven.

“I’m looking forward to meeting new people and traveling to more places in the US,” said Harjani.

Although these students are here now, before we know it the end of the semester will be here.

“I think when I leave Lock Haven it will be very sad,” said Hwang.

Since the international students’ time at Lock Haven University will be short, if you see any international students, say “hi” to them.  They will be very happy that you did, and just maybe your life will be changed forever by knowing them.

“When I was at my university, I didn’t talk to the international students, but now I realized I need to talk to them when I go back,” said Harjani.

Cati Keith is a senior majoring in communication and can be contacted at 


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