WNY Colleges and Organizations Help Foreign Students Adapt to Their New Homes

With the fall semester starting, thousands of international students from  are set to arrive by the end of this month at western New York colleges and universities.

The number of foreign students coming to America for school reached an all-time high of one million last year, according to a Los Angeles Times story. Moving to another country is an adjustment, but those who do will find opportunities to interact with members of their own culture – on campus, and off.

Most local colleges offer a variety of academic and social opportunities designed just for them, from special housing and orientation activities to social clubs, but – especially at schools clustered around Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Rochester – they will find ethnic communities, if they’re willing to search a little.

Rochester and Buffalo have thriving ethnic communities that span the globe, and they are found near some smaller college towns, as well. Perhaps the easiest way to find them is to search on websites  like Meetup and Eventbrite , or for Facebook groups, where you’ll find, for example, that Buffalo has a Chinese culture club that hosts monthly socials, and for Francophones,  the Alliance Française sponsors lectures, films, conversation groups and more.

Rochester has a group for Russian-speakers, and social groups for Germans, Japanese, Filipinos, and other nationalities. The Filipino-American Association of Rochester sponsors activities and add to the offerings available through on-campus student clubs.

Each of these groups is open to the public and can provide opportunities to meet people who might be able to help with things, like finding a college student a place to live over break. Most colleges’ international students departments can also provide resources for housing during breaks, as well.

Rochester also has a non-profit group designed to connect international students with community residents, called Rochester Global Connections. Connections doesn’t plug them into their local ethnic communities; instead, according to its Web site, it partners students with local people and families, who help them to  “experience unique local destinations and characteristic Rochester hospitality.” The organization sponsors social and educational events, even visits to local schools, where the students can share about their culture to children.

The University of Rochester reports that, last year,  17.4 percent of its 11,100 students were international, coming from 113 countries. On its website, it includes resources and advice for international students who are having trouble adapting, including surrounding one’s self with familiar things while still exploring other cultures. “Find a balance between your culture and your new surroundings,” students are advised. “It is important not to abandon your culture, and keep your own identity.”

For more tips and advice for adapting , visit www.iso.rochester.edu/living/culture/strategies.html

For more on Rochester Global Connections, visit www.rochesterglobalconnections.org.

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