Feb. 1, 2016
When a student decides to travel internationally for the first time, the uncertainty of their environment can be both exciting and overwhelming.
UCCS welcomed over 300 international students from 49 countries last semester. This type of diversity and exchange of culture starts with the Global Engagement Office.
Mandy Hansen, director of the Global Engagement Office, believes it’s nice to give first-time travelers a buffer to establish the resources around them and help adjust to American classrooms and expectations.
“We coordinated for the first time in our office the International Student Check-in and Welcome. One of the challenges for international students is they can’t come in June to Orientation then fly all the way back home,” she said.
Hansen added that many international students arrive at the university before classes begin.
“It is really important that the International Check-in and Welcome provide some parallel experiences to summer orientation. This was something that didn’t happen in the past and I look forward to that being institutionalized,” said Hansen.
Roger Habimana, an international student from France, has been in the U.S. for two weeks. Habimana is currently completing the first year of his master’s degree, and is studying international relations. He hopes to become an Army officer along with completing his degree.
Part of his education in France demands that he travels to another country to continue his studies.
“Basically, I had to choose between two universities: UCCS or the University of Dubuque in Iowa. For me it was a quick choice,” he said. “I feel good here, people are really friendly, I love the landscape, the culture and I have been enjoying everything so far.”
Habimana remarked that one of the biggest differences between UCCS and his college in France is the sheer diversity of students on campus. Habimana came from a private Catholic university where religion and education were both emphasized.
“I think it is great to have people so different and to practice being open minded. That’s why I love these kind of experiences,” he said.
Because Habimana has high hopes for joining the army, he plans to take advantage of internship opportunities offered through UCCS. He has also been taking history classes to learn more about Colorado Springs, its military background and its relationship with the federal government.
Hansen pointed out that not only do international students benefit from their experience, but the blending of cultures and ideas enhances UCCS students’ understanding and cultural development.
“A great example of this is the Indian Student Association; during our International Week in November, they shared with the UCCS community the Diwali Festival of Lights event,” she said.