Soon, our beautiful Brandeis campus will be welcoming many new students. While many students will come from the United States, nearly 20 percent will hail from outside the country. While many of these international students may bring anxieties to campus, the opportunity as Brandeis students to interact with different cultures is invaluable.
Brandeis offers many features that may not be present in foreign universities. Among the most appealing characteristics is the “freedom in the choosing and changing of majors and classes,” says Yu Song Yang ’20. We at Brandeis are somewhat famous for allowing our students to take a diverse array of classes in addition to having distinct majors. However, many foreign universities require students to make decisions about their academic program before they have even set foot on campus. This freedom can be very helpful to students who don’t want to commit to an academic program immediately. Furthermore, being able to choose a diverse academic program can help students find what they are fully interested in, and not simply what they thought may be interesting before even arriving at Brandeis.
Additionally, Brandeis may have more resources to devote towards international students. Says Shumin Chen ’20: “Brandeis has [a] much lower faculty-student ratio so I can develop a more intimate relationship with my professors and get more attention from them.” In fact, Brandeis’ small size is often one of the reasons that students choose this university. Unlike large public universities, Brandeis students can have a closer relationship with their professors and not feel lost in a sea of students.
These international students do come to campus with some anxieties still present. This would be understandable given that for many of them, this may be the first time ever being in the United States, let alone Brandeis University’s campus. Chen commented on the “culture shock” and the worry of potentially being “confused if I behave wrongly, or if I offend someone.” Certainly, American culture can be strange to many. However, it will be our responsibility as Brandeis students to ensure that all students feel comfortable and at home while on campus.
Interestingly enough, many international students we spoke to mentioned the “foreignness” of Brandeis University as actually being one of its redeeming quality. Yang mentioned that coming to campus “represents a new beginning” in a new country.
Brandeis in particular will pose some interesting cultural characteristics for foreign students to encounter. Most notably is Brandeis’ Jewish identity, which may be new to international students. Chen noted that “I respect their tradition and [am] curious about Jewish culture. To me, [the] Jewish population is only [a] part of America.”
As a whole, Brandeis provides a welcoming and nurturing environment to international students. Some of the resources available to international students include the International Culture Center (ICC) as well as several clubs devoted to students from certain countries. For students from China there is BC3, for those of African descent there is African Students Organization, and students from Korea will have the Korean Student Organization. International students wanting to connect with students from their own country should have no problem finding others who share their culture.
Brandeis University and The Brandeis Hoot both look forward to welcoming international students to campus very soon.