Thursday, February 22, 2024

Making Connections: Building a Supportive Network as an International Student

Picture this: you step foot onto campus grounds, a myriad of emotions swirling within you like leaves dancing in the wind. Orientation beckons, a symphony of introductions and icebreakers set against the backdrop of excitement and anticipation. Here, amidst the laughter and shared stories, seeds of friendship are sown, destined to bloom into the vibrant garden of your university experience.

As the days unfold like chapters in a book, you find yourself drawn to the canvas of student life, each stroke a testament to the rich tapestry of experiences awaiting you. Joining clubs and organizations becomes your brush, painting strokes of passion and purpose across the canvas of campus culture. From the vibrant hues of cultural clubs to the bold strokes of athletic prowess, there’s a space for every shade of your identity to shine.

Tips for Meeting New People and Making Friends

  1. Attend Orientation Events: Orientation week is an excellent opportunity to meet other new students
    and start forming connections. Be sure to participate in icebreaker activities, campus tours, and
    welcome events organized by your university.


  2. Join Clubs and Organizations: Get involved in student clubs and organizations that align with your 

    interests and hobbies. Whether you're passionate about sports, culture, academics, or volunteering, 

    there's likely a club for you. Joining clubs is a great way to meet like-minded peers and expand your 

    social circle.

3. Utilize Social Media: Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn can be valuable tools for connecting with other students, both locally and internationally. Join university-specific groups and online communities to engage with fellow students, ask questions, and share experiences

4. Participate in Group Study Sessions: Forming study groups with classmates is not only beneficial academically but also provides opportunities for social interaction and collaboration. Work together on assignments, study for exams, and share insights and resources.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

My experience in Boston Career Forum 2023!

Hey guys! This is Rei, it has been chilly and foggy these days but I hope you are all staying healthy and enjoying the crisp air. In today's blog, I would like to share my experiences in Boston which I went last week for one of the biggest job career events for Japanese-English bilinguals that are looking for their post graduation positions. 

Exterior of Hynes Convention Center 
The Boston Career Forum, also knows as "Boscari," is a job seeking event held in Boston, for three days in November each year, and it was held in Hynes Convention Center this year! In fact, it is a large-scale career event with over 5,500 students participating each year from all over the world. With over 170 companies from around the world are expected to participate, positions available range from full-time to internships, entry-level to management level for working professionals. 

The biggest difference from a regular company information session is that you can get a job offer from a well-known company during the event. At Boscari, you will not only hear about the companies at their booths, but you will also have the opportunity to interview with them on the spot. If you successfully appeal to them, you may even receive a job offer during the event. Some companies invite their preferred students to dinner on the night of the event, and some say that if a student is invited to dinner by a company, he or she will almost receive a job offer from them. 

After three days of this year's Boscari 2023, I was able to receive full-time offers from two companies! This is a kind of special and exclusive event for Japanese-English bilinguals, but I am sure that there are other events similar to this one. To give you some ideas of one way to find a job, I would like to share a little bit about my three days in Boston! 

Day 0: Thursday, November 16th - Arrival at Boston 

Most students arrive in Boston the day before the event to prepare for the day. I was one of them, and I checked into my hotel and prepared for my interviews the following days. A few students have already been invited to dinner by the companies and the event has already started one step ahead of other students. 

Booths in the venue
Day 1: Friday, November 17th - The day that differentiates the results of the three days

Day 1 is probably the most crowded day of the three-day event. This is possibly due to the fact that two types of students, pre-applications and walk-ins, gather on the first day of the event. Pre-applicants submit resumes, documents, tests, etc. to companies about 2-3 months prior to these three days, and have first- and second-round interviews online in advance. Whereas walk-in students submit their resumes and other documents to company booths on the day of the event and wait for responses from the companies. The quickness of the responses from the company depends on the company. Some students will be contacted by the end of the day, while others will be contacted after the event. Popular companies may close their booths as soon as they receive a certain number of walk-ins, so for walk-in students, the first day is extremely important as it determines whether or not they will receive an offer. I, myself, had applied to several companies in advance, so the first day was the form of second and final interviews throughout the day. I received a phone call that evening from one of the companies where I had a final interview, informing me of the job offer!

Food I had at dinner!
Day 2: Saturday, November 18th - Continued Interviews Day 

It is one of those memorable days that I will never forget! In the morning, I had a final interview with my first-choice company. I remember my hands were shaking a little from nerves. The interview went well and I received an offer from the company by phone, a few minutes after the interview! I was actually invited by the company over the phone to dinner that night, along with an offer. The dinner with the company associates was really good and fun! The steak shown in the photo on the right was excellent, and it was great to chat with the associates in a casual setting. One of the unique features of the Boston Career Forum may be this opportunity to enjoy a meal with a company at Boston! After dinner, I reunited with friends who are also studying at universities abroad and we chatted about job applications and everyday life. It was a valuable opportunity to reconnect with students who are also studying abroad around the world, and even to meet new people! 

View of the Boston
Day 3: Sunday, November 19th - Last day of the event!

On the third and final day of the event, there will be fewer students and the corporate booths will be taken down around noon. Some students come to the venue for interviews with companies that are still in the hiring process, or for casual meeting and greetings after passing interviews. I visited the companies' booths that had made offers to me to greet them and to thank them for their offers. After that, I explored the city of Boston until my flight back to Tacoma. After arriving in Boston, my mind was occupied with interviews, but walking around the city after all things done, I was able to enjoy the historical buildings, autumn leaves, and fashionable streetscapes that are a part of Boston. After exploring Boston, I took an afternoon flight back to Tacoma! Looking back before this event, since I had been preparing for this event for about three months and had been working hard with weekly interviews, regular classes, and work, I remember feeling a sense of accomplishment and relief when I returned to my apartment in Tacoma.

This concludes my three-day Boston Career Forum 2023 experience! My biggest takeaway from this event was that "advance preparation and pre-event application leads to a better end result." I actually participated in last year's Boston Career Forum 2022, but did not receive any offers, as I applied on a walk-in basis for all of the companies I applied. I feel that the key to the success of this year's Boscari was that I had started preparing early, taking advantage of that last year's lesson. I think this applies not only to Boscari applicants, but to all students looking for positions after graduation. Choosing a company and finding a position will greatly affect your future. I know that we are all busy with our college life, but it might be a good idea to think a little bit about what you want to do in the future and where you want to work when you have a little time. 

I hope this experience will be of some help! I know that it is time for important assignments such as finals and presentations, but take a break from time to time and keep up the good work! Go Lutes! 


Monday, November 13, 2023

Understanding the U.S. Education System: Key Differences for International Students

Let's face it, being an international student is not easy! A few of the challenges we face can range from language barrier to culture shock, from home sickness to discrimination. You name it.

One of the many reasons International Students tend to under-perform is because of their inadequacy in awareness of the U.S education system and grading system? 

Selam! (That's how we say greet in Ethiopia). It's Brooke here. In today's blog I am going to dive into discussion of the US education curriculum and grading system. Although this maybe obvious to some, I am confident many of you with find this useful. 

As an international student, it is important to understand the U.S. education system and how it differs from the education system you've thus far gone through.

Today's blog aims to empower current and new international students with the knowledge and understanding they need to navigate the U.S. education system successfully and make the most of their academic experience in the United States. 

In order to fully understand the U.S. education system it's important to keep the following points in mind: 

  • Curriculum and course selection
  • Grading and evaluation
  • Education structure
  • Classroom dynamics 
  • Campus life and support services 
  • Cultural adjustment 


This shows the flexibility and variety of academic programs in the U.S. It covers topics such as major selection, general education requirements, and the opportunity for interdisciplinary studies. It may also explain the credit system and how students can choose based on their interest and academic goal. 

You may find that most U.S. schools provide a liberal arts education where students have the opportunity to take classes outside of their major which ultimately helps them to become a holistic/well rounded student by the time they finish school. In fact, several companies prefer students that have received a liberal arts education.


Different curriculum have different ways of grading and evaluating students and this can impact the way you study and eventually determine your chances of getting opportunities. The U.S predominantly use letter grades and grade point average (GPA). Although it depends on the professor, these evaluations are based on class participation, assignments, exams and research papers. In fact most professors would label how much each grade component is. Knowing this can help you plan strategically. 

There will be part 2 of this blog. I hope today's blog has given you insight into the US education system and how you can best take advantage of it. Comment below what education curriculum and grading system you're used to?

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Guest Blogger: Meet Rayen from Tunisia!

Hi all - Rei here! 

I hope you are doing well and getting ready for the rain/cold season that is about to come! A lot of people say that people in Washington do not own an umbrella, however there is actually quite a number of people who use their umbrellas on campus! So don't hesitate to use them and protect yourself from the wind and the rain! 

📍Pike Place Market

Today's blog is the take over of the guest blogger, Rayen! Rayen is from Tunisia, an exchange student at PLU, and he is majoring in Communication. Rayen is joining PLU as an exchange student for one academic year supported by the US department of States and IREX (A global development & education organization). He is the first international student to join PLU as a Thomas Jefferson Program scholar! Even though he has a limited time to study in PLU, he is actively getting involved with a variety of clubs and organizations here such as the founder of the African Student Association at PLU, and volunteer as a tutor at PLU Literacy Center. I asked Rayen some questions about student life in PLU which I hope would be helpful for students who are considering applying to PLU and for current PLU students! 

How long have you been living in the U.S. and how did you feel about the transition from your hometown to the U.S.?

'Aslema!' - as we usually say to greet our friends and family in Tunisia.

I have now called the U.S. my home for nearly two months, and I must say, it has been an incredible experience so far. Everything is GREAT! As an international student, I'm fully committed to seizing every opportunity, forging new connections, and getting the most out of my exchange year. My enthusiasm has no bounds! Reflecting on my journey, my transition from Tunisia to the U.S. was the hardest part. The first two weeks were undoubtedly challenging, as I found myself alone, on a different continent, and extremely out of my comfort zone. Still, I am immensely grateful for all the people I have met so far for making my journey easier and helping me adapt to this new life. The unfamiliarity of a new culture and environment has now become a source of fascination, and I am constantly learning and growing from it.

What surprised you the most when coming to the U.S.? 

Rayen with members of the African Student Union 
The diversity of the campus and the opportunities available have pleasantly surprised me. The United States is indeed a melting pot of cultures and perspectives, and my experience on campus reflects this beautifully. Interacting with students from all corners of the globe has been incredibly rewarding and consistently helped broaden my horizons. I am lucky enough to have built friendships with people from all over the world with whom I had a unique opportunity for both personal and intellectual growth. 

What are the things you like the most about PLU so far? 

The student life at PLU is incredibly amazing! I am really impressed by all the clubs on campus and their work. The events at PLU are also so diverse and there is always something exciting happening on campus. PLU is not just a place to attend classes but it also presents an exceptional campus environment! Whether you're interested in sports, arts, cultures, or anything between, there's a club for you. 

Group photo from ISS Hiking Trip! 
What/where are your favorite places or things to do in PLU? 

There are many things I enjoy at PLU, but I can undoubtedly say that the hiking trips are making my exchange year unforgettable. I am truly impressed by how green Washington is, and the mountains are absolutely breathtaking. I also enjoy spending time in the African Student Association, working on the upcoming meeting with all the members, hearing their ideas, and working collaboratively to make our events successful. All of these have created a sense of belonging and friendship that has been part of my exchange year so far. 

What are some advice that you would give future international students wanting to come to PLU? 

Enjoy the process! Applying for college can be stressful but it's a lifetime experience so get the most out of it. 

Once you are at PLU, be active! Make sure to join clubs, meet new people, and make the four years memorable. The International Student Office on campus is a great support so make sure to attend all the events and meet all the great people there. Always remember, you are not alone on this journey, there are plenty of international students who also look forward to meeting you and becoming your friend!  

And that wraps up this week's Guest blogger post! I hope this helps not only the student who is considering applying for PLU but also the current international students for your future life in PLU! After the Midterm break, school work may get harder and stressful but we got this! Go Lutes! 


Friday, October 13, 2023

Navigating Cultural Differences: Stories and Advice from International Students

In the beginning of Fall, we welcomed several international students. So today we want to dedicate this blog to new international students. In this blog, we explore and talk about challenges international students face and how to also overcome these challenges. 

Your blog writer, Biruktawit Tesfaye, am myself an international student with three years of experience living in the US.

As exciting as moving abroad seems, it can also become a nerve-raking thing to do. At least I can speak to myself and writing about this makes me go back in time and reminisce about my very first time in the US as an international student. Especially moving abroad to study by oneself can require a leap of faith to take that first step. Nevertheless, you are finally here with a mission. 

Today's blog will explore stories and advice from international students who have successfully embraced and overcome these challenges. 

1. Embrace the unknown 

One of the hurdles for international students is adjusting to the unknown. Stepping out of your comfort zone and immersing yourself in a new culture can be both thrilling and intimating. 

2. Language and communication 

Language barriers often pose significant challenges for international students. From understanding lectures to making new friends, effective communication is crucial. Sharing personal experiences of how international students navigated language barriers and improved their communication skills can provide valuable insights and strategies for others. 

3. Building relationships 

Making friends and building relationships is an essential part of the international student experience. However, cultural differences can sometimes create barriers. Exploring stories of how international students formed meaningful connections with local and fellow international students can shed light on effective strategies for building relationships across cultures. 

 4. Seeking support and community 

 Navigating cultural differences can be overwhelming at times and seeking support is important for students like you and me who are new to these experiences. One of the way you can seek support is by asking current international students about their experience and listening to their stories. This way you can build a community who shares your feelings and thus build strong network. 


5. Adapting Academic Expectations 

As an international student, you need to understand that the academic expectations and curriculum can vary from where you have come from. Due to inadequate awareness, some international students often face the challenge of adapting to the grading system and teaching methods. 

I hope the tips shared above was helpful in making your transition smooth at PLU. If you have anything you'd like to share or talk about, the international office welcomes you with open arms.