Imagine having just a week to furnish a new apartment, set up a new phone service, fill out extensive and detailed paperwork, and register for classes, in a foreign country where you have never been before. This is the challenge international students have when they first arrive in Lexington from their homes countries.
Students come to UK from over 117 different countries including countries such as Oman, China, India, Saudia Arabia, and Nigeria.
To help ease this complex transition the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) held K Week International from August 13 -17. The week includes check-in workshop, orientations, advising conferences, and fun events such as the welcome fair, shopping trips, an ice cream social, and a session about living in the U.S. that includes free pizza.
CESL student Emre Aykutlug from Turkey, and Industrial Engineering major Álvaro Sanz Lázaro from Spain describe their experiences during K Week International, “For my own experience, I can say that UK is very hospitable. From my arrival in Lexington everyone I met has helped ease my transition, and made everything much easier. As is normal at the beginning of things it was difficult, but after a while and after meeting people from so many different countries I felt very integrated into the UK community.”
Elif Bengu, EdD, international student affairs advisor, works to help the students feel confident and secure throughout the many steps of becoming a UK student. Bengu felt the event was successful due to the help of international student volunteers, “Volunteers who went through this same process know what the students are experiencing and are instrumental in helping students stay on track with their transition, create new friendships, and get involved with other university events.”
One of Bengu’s most dedicated volunteers Thammapot “Thomas” Wattanapanalai from Thailand, who is studying civil engineering describes why he chose to volunteer, “I came to Kentucky without any connections to the U.S., making it very difficult to find my way around. K Week International helped me find my way; this experience led me to become a volunteer. As a volunteer I have been able to help many new students become adjusted to this new culture. Many of the new students do not know where to buy book or find good restaurants, but volunteers like myself can answer their questions and provide them with valuable information. For me, volunteering is very important and new students are thankful for my help.”
ISSS provides leadership and expertise in the advising and immigration needs of more than 1,500 international students, 325 international faculty and staff, and 250 exchange visitors. ISSS also administers university compliance with evolving federal regulations, supports the university and its medical centers by managing global student and scholar interactions, and facilitates the well being of all international students, faculty, staff and scholars.