It’s hard enough for some freshmen to adjust to college life. Imagine trying to tackle it in a foreign country. More than 325 students from other nations are undergoing orientation this week at the University of Iowa. Lois Gray, spokeswoman for the U-I’s Office of International Students and Scholars, says they’re helping acclimate newcomers on all aspects of life in America and Iowa. Gray says they’re learning everything from how to set up a bank account, how to file their taxes, how to take care of health care issues and even how to deal with Iowa’s unpredictable weather — and for some, the first-time experience of snow. She says the international students are being introduced to a variety of things we’d consider as commonplace, from learning about American slang to visiting an Iowa farm. Gray says they had a hoe-down for the foreign students recently, they’re going on hikes in Iowa’s beautiful landscape, they’re visiting an apple orchard — just meeting regular Iowans. She says the majority of the international students come from China, South Korea and India, but there are many others from all over the globe. Gray says students are at the U-of-I this fall semester from 117 different countries, from Albania and Australia to Zimbabwe. The new students will bring the total number of international students and scholars to approximately 2300, or six-percent of the overall U-of-I student population, similar to fall 2003. She says it’s a real learning opportunity for the students themselves and for Iowans to learn about the students and their homelands. The top areas of study pursued by U-of-I international students include the M-B-A program followed by chemistry, the P-H-D in pharmacy and computer science. Eighty-four-percent of international students are graduate or professional students and 16-percent are undergraduates.
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