Deciding where to go to college is hard, especially when you live outside of the US! Like many of you, I didn’t have the opportunity to visit colleges after I got my decisions in March so most of my time in April was spent poring over the internet. At that time, it was easy for me and my international school peers to get sucked into the statistics, using the numbers to define the schools. For example, back then rankings would define prestige, class sizes and student to faculty ratio would define academics & percentage of international students would define globalism. The “globalism” definition was particularly important to me because I wanted a school with an international presence. If you looked solely at the numbers, with an undergraduate body of 15% international students that represent over 60 nations and with almost 50% of students studying abroad, you may infer that Tufts is a place of global citizens and with this you would not be wrong! Tufts certainly has an international presence, a global mindset and a strong support system for international students. It definitely made it easy for me as a foreign student to fit in at Tufts.
However, the reason I felt so integrated into Tufts so quickly was not because of number of international students but because of the resources for international students and the intercultural opportunities. In this blog post I hope to give you a little flavour of the opportunities available for international students that represent the welcoming, inclusive environment of Tufts that go beyond just the numbers.
The I-Center will be your go-to place during your four years! The staff at the I-Center will not only process your visa and give you advice on immigration laws, but also facilitate intercultural exchange on campus. I love going to their barbeques, discussion groups and their annual Thanksgiving Dinner! My favourite thing about the I-Center though, is the fact that every single staff member who works there, even the Director, feels like a friend and a part of my Tufts family. It is truly a place where I can seek advice and talk about anything and everything from my Tufts life to home-sickness to my culture back home
Tufts has 6 Pre Orientation programs to give students the opportunity to get involved on campus early, meet upper-class mentors, make friends and settle in before orientation officially begins. There are 6 themed programs:
CAFÉ (Conservation Action Faith and Education)
FIT (Fitness and Individual Development at Tufts)
FOCUS (Freshman Orientation CommUnity Service)
SQUAD (Students' Quest for Unity in the African Dispora)
TWO (Tufts Wilderness Orientation)
GO (Global Orientation)
GO is the program I did as an incoming freshman! It is a 4 day program that introduces American and international students to Tufts and Boston. With upperclassmen host advisors leading the way, the GO experience includes a speed boat ride in the Boston Harbour, an Amazing Race through the Tufts Campus, a trip to Rockport (a quaint New England coastal town) and bonding events like cross cultural discussions, "Life Stories" and Skit making to help students make intercultural friendships that truly last! Today, I'm still BEST FRIENDS with the people I met on Day 1 of GO :). During the program, they also offer immigration information sessions, trips to Target(!), and opportunities to set up your bank account and phone numbers. Doing GO was the BEST decision I could have made because it allowed me to bond with people from all over the US and all over the world, to have a fun, warm start to Tufts and a relaxed transition into college. GO instantly made me feel like Tufts was home(it still is now!). To get a picture of a Day in the Life of GO, check out the video below I made as a senior GO Coordinator!
The I-Club is a student run organisation for international students and American students that organises community building, discussion based and social events. You can be a part of their executive board and plan events or simply go to them and have fun! Some of their social events have included, football (soccer) tournaments, pumpkin carving, holiday parties and quiz nights. Some of their conversation based events have included "Navigating Cultural Identities: Home & Transition", and a guest speaker talk on Third Culture Kids. The biggest event by the I-Club is their Parade of Nations show, a fun, dance-filled, cultural extravaganza with performances from various TALENTED student groups from the Salsa team to the African Dance Collective. Every year it ends with a huge flag show where students strut their stuff on stage, wearing their national outfits and holding their country's flag. It’s a great time and an amazing way to bring people together.
The I-House (Yes I know, there is an "I" everything, just like Apple) is an opportunity for sophomores, juniors and seniors from all over the world to live together, creating an environment for students to share their cultures and differences among friends.
Last but not least, there are over 25 culture clubs on campus ranging from the Singapore Students Association, Armenian Club, Association of Latin American Students to the European Students Association. They provide a space for students to connect to their culture, the people who share their culture and those who are interested in their culture! Plus, there is always some event happening on campus hosted by these groups and they are almost always FREE FOOD RELATED (Yum!). Some of my favourite events have been Japanese Culture Club's "So You Think You Can SUMO", Brazilian Club's "Carnaval", and the Italian Club's "Pasta-making Workshop at Dave's Fresh Pasta" (PS: Dave's is in Davis Square has the BEST Pasta and Sandwiches!!!)
As an international student, there are many reasons and factors to take into account when choosing a college. Tufts' global mindset and international presence is only one factor that makes it an AMAZING school. However, with this blog post, I hope that I have at least shown you that at Tufts, no matter how far away your family may be, you will not feel alone :)