Time for Fun! Exciting Activities for International Students Year-round
International Affairs Hosts Cultural, Social, Recreational EventsAug 17, 2023
Stepping off the plane at Denver International Airport, you’re in a completely different country, navigating throughout an unfamiliar city, moving into new housing, taking university classes where lessons are not in your native language, and learning to acclimate to a different culture in myriad ways.
Even temporary acculturation, the assimilation to a different culture, can pose extra challenges during your undergraduate and graduate degree studies as an international student.
It can also be an exciting time, one filled with new friends, unique experiences, and joy-filled moments that make for a lifetime of good memories.
“CU Denver has given me a most satisfying welcome,” said Nathan, who arrived from Uganda to study biology with an eye on the pre-med track. “The Office of International Affairs has especially played a critical role in making me feel at home. They are super-awesome!”
Naveena is enrolled in the master’s program in computer science. From her perspective, CU Denver has been “incredibly welcoming,” and she “instantly felt at home here.”
“Denver is a vibrant and inviting city, especially for young women like me who are eager to explore new opportunities. It's a place where I feel empowered to grow and build my future. I'm originally from India, but I've lived in various cities and countries due to my father's job. However, Denver has truly captured my heart, and I consider it an ideal city to settle in and call home.”
The Office of International Affairs (OIA), University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus, offers a calendar full of interesting, cultural, social, and recreational activities that are open to every international student. International students are welcomed to campus with parties and activities that start their educational experience on a high note – with meet-and-greet socializing with other students, faculty, and staff and a variety of indoor and outdoor events throughout each semester, all in an atmosphere of pure Colorado fun.
WELCOME: A SENSE OF BELONGING
“It is our honor and pleasure to welcome students from diverse global regions to CU Denver and CU Anschutz,” said Alana Jones, Associate Vice Chancellor, Office of International Affairs. “In addition to the many services provided by the Office of International Affairs, including international recruitment and admissions, immigration services, study abroad, international partnerships, and transition support, we host OIA events and join with university partners in offering year-round activities for international students and international scholars. These occasions help them to quickly become a part of the dynamic campus communities on both campuses."
Research shows that social support plays a major role in reducing acculturation stress in international students. The number of international students worldwide reached 5.1 million in 2019, and the number of students leaving home to study at overseas universities, including students from developed and developing countries, is expected to continue to increase every year with the possibility of exceeding seven million by 2025. For these international students, studying in another country such as the United States yields positive benefits that include cross-cultural understanding, adaptation to cultural differences, and foreign language skills, and preparedness for the global job market. (Source: National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information; USA.gov; article: Social Support and Acculturative Stress of International Students, May 2022)
HONORING CULTURES & TRADITIONS
In partnership with other CU Denver clubs and organizations, OIA joins in creating memorable events where international students can share information about their cultures and celebrate their traditions with the campus community.OIA collaborated with CU Denver's Indian Students Association (ISA) to celebrate the spring “Festival of Colors,” Holi. Recognized as a national holiday in India, Holi welcomes the new season and celebrates the passing of winter with music, singing, dancing, and the tossing of powdered colors; 175 participants joined in the colorful festivities. OIA and ISA also teamed with other university partners to present activities honoring Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.
Two hundred thirty students, staff, faculty, and friends recognized the Lunar New Year at an event presented by OIA, the Asian Students Association (ASA), and the Intercultural Club Beijing. The Club’s members act as consultants for International College Beijing (ICB), both for American CU Denver students going to Beijing on study abroad programs and Chinese students coming to CU Denver. Plans are underway to celebrate the 30th anniversary of International College Beijing in 2024. The University of Colorado Denver and China Agricultural University have benefited from this unique collaboration in education. As the first partnership of its kind, International College Beijing (ICB) offers classes to Chinese students in China and Colorado, and provides undergraduate degrees in economics, communication, or dual degrees from the University of Colorado Denver.
OIA is working with students in the Latinx Student Association on activities surrounding the theme of social justice. They are also collaborating with students and staff to expand the activities of the Kuwaiti Student Club, celebrate Ramadan, and bring awareness for the prayer spaces that are available on campus.
INDOORS & OUTDOORS WITH GLOBAL BUDDIES
Each semester, the Office of International Affairs hires several international Global Student Ambassadors who assist in planning and implementing OIA’s “Global Buddies” program, a friendship-building program for CU Denver international and domestic students. Activities include guided snow skiing and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains, miniature golf, bowling, karaoke, and trivia quizzes and games.
OIA takes international students and scholars to citywide and Colorado events such as the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, Denver Broncos Football and Colorado Nuggets Basketball games, and Doors Open Denver architectural tours. Events are held one to two times per month, and are free for international students and scholars.
InternationaliTEA is an informal social event that takes place each month. During this well-attended event, international students and scholars get to know each other better, share information about life in Colorado, and enjoy coffee, tea, and pastries. Discussions range throughout a wide variety of general interest topics that are often associated with professional and emotional growth in a working environment.
End-of-the-semester commencement is a special time in the lives of all students. OIA hosts International Student Graduation Parties to especially recognize the accomplishments of CU Denver | CU Anschutz international students. Evening events are held in the ballrooms of nearby hotels such as The Curtis and The Rally. Delicious meals are served as students enjoy presentations created by OIA staff and the OIA Global Ambassadors. These entertaining presentations have come complete with a baby photo “contest” as students try to guess the identities of classmates (“who is this?”), learn about their peers’ favorite memories of CU Denver | CU Anschutz, and engage in a trivia discovery contest. Graduates leave with an added warm memory of their days at the university, and with a graduation gift in hand.
During the isolation caused by the pandemic, OIA continued to reach out to the university’s international students and scholars by innovating a series of online social, cultural, and learning activities that temporarily replaced the in-person events. These virtual sessions included weekly game leagues, morning online wake-ups with friends that brought information about “good things happening in the world”, cooking tips, remote working/learning tips, movie nights with top films from around the world, and an open chat feature with the OIA designates.
“Over the past year, I've grown to love the university for its vibrant campus life, the friendly and diverse student community, and the engaging international events that keep us connected and enriched,” explained Sundeep, who is earning a master’s in computer science. He also commented that Denver’s bustling downtown with its museums, restaurants, and shops are all “happening places to explore.”
SUPPORT THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA
Along with answering questions and providing information in-person, OIA team members stay in touch with international students and scholars at CU Denver and CU Anschutz through several social media platforms. There are WhatsApp groups for each semester’s cohort of incoming international students and groups for international scholars as well as their families.
OIA-hosted WhatsApp groups include the International Conversation Corner, Roommates Group, groups for Spring and Fall semesters, and Global Buddies.
“I frequently interacted with OIA and other students on their social media accounts like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram. These platforms provided a great way to stay connected, get updates on events, and seek assistance with various aspects of university life, such as immigration, fees structure, and payments,” said Sundeep. “The OIA team has been incredibly helpful in providing guidance and support to international students like me.”
LEARNING BETWEEN CAMPUSES
Match the academic eagerness of CU Denver pre-health undergraduates with the abilities of distinguished international scholars at CU Anschutz Medical Campus and what do you get? The ISCORE (International Scholars Collaborative Opportunity for Research Exchange) program. Developed by the Office of International Affairs, the Graduate School, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the program offers a unique, friendly learning environment that teams undergraduate students in pre-health programs at the CU Denver campus with international researchers and scholars at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus to the benefit of both groups.
For the undergraduates, it’s a chance to learn first-hand about the exciting research that’s taking place in labs on the medical campus. For the international researchers, it provides regularly scheduled conversations aimed at enhancing English language skills. This unique cross-cultural environment fosters student success for the undergraduates and supports the international researchers’ effective integration into their labs and into American society. Recruitment and pairing participants require an intensive eight-week process.
During the Spring 2023 ISCORE event, students gave presentations featuring topics they had researched and studied under the guidance of their international scholar partners. Subjects included: the intersection of epidemiology, glaucoma, and health disparities; rheumatoid arthritis; neutralizing antibodies against H5N1 HA; clinical research study designs; and more.
FROM A TO Z
Increasing numbers of international students are finding a “home away from home” during their educational journey at the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus. During Spring 2023, 1,672 international students from 75 countries were enrolled at CU Denver; 154 students from 32 countries were at CU Anschutz.
“In addition to students from China, India, and the Middle East, more students are now also coming to campus from Ghana, Nigeria, Nepal, Argentina, and many other countries,” said Jones. “We fully understand the courage and determination required to pursue your studies in a completely different country and culture, and we will continue to innovate ways to welcome and support our international students.”
When asked what advice he would give to other international students who are considering studies at the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus, Nathan replied: “Having an education in the U.S. is undoubtedly one of the best things that has happened to me.”
He concluded, “With this university, you are guaranteed a premium education within a beautifully diverse, equitable and inclusive community.”
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