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What Can Ivy League Schools Do to Help International Students Make New Friends
Coming to a new country can be particularly intimidating when the only thing you care about (ppffff…. Who cares about academics, the weather, or the food, amiright or amiright?) is making friends. The scary part might not even be talking to someone new but rather seeing if you can fit in a culture that is stereotyped to have such a rigid culture and structured (albeit potentially progressive) social scene. Meaning, the problem isn’t too big when you look at it from an individual perspective (ie the ability to make at least one friend), but rather if you can make a security network (ie a group of friends) in a foreign community despite a possible language barrier.

Well, if it makes you feel any better, the whole country is feeling this problem. The majority of colleges have a division between domestic students and international students. Not only does this mean that international students are feeling a disconnect between themselves and the school (as in they do not affiliate good times to the academic institution), but these students aren’t receiving the experiences they deserve and domestic students are missing an opportunity to diversify their perspectives.

So the question becomes, what can Ivy League schools (which tend to have at least around 12 percent of their student body coming from outside the US) do to erase this divide and help international students make friends with students who speak their home language as well as with those who don’t; here are a couple of options.

Personally, I go to a small school, with a student body of approximately 1,800 students, 1,300 students if you exclude graduate students. About a quarter of the students who go to my school are citizens of a country outside the United States. Because, proportionately, we have more international students than the Ivy League schools and less individual students, my school has a relatively strong International Student Organization. International students who attend the college arrive a week before the other freshman. This first week of orientation includes separate discussion and seminar sections guiding them through some of the expected trials and tribulations of international schooling. Not only is this helpful in navigating a completely different world but also in establishing helpful relationships with international students from your own country and eventually those from other countries. The pros to using this method to create friendships between international students is that it is very helpful and usually makes international students happier in their environments (especially with proportionately large international student populations) but this method does not connect international students with domestic students.

Because it is harder for larger groups of people to organize, finding an optimal group size (maybe five students) and creating a meeting time as well as something to do can be helpful for international students to find domestic friends. In my personal experience, international students usually don’t spend time with students from the United states because they get tired of constantly trying to keep up with the fast paced English and “slang vocabulary” that American students sprinkle in their language like five year old children do on their cupcakes. More exposure to this sort of language and patient domestic students can easily develop a repertoire of American slang for international students with enough contact, communication and bonding. The pros to this method include a greater amount of communication between international students and domestic students establishing more cultural education for both sides. This program would include more resources from the Ivy League schools in order to create these groups and activities.

Regardless of the complete plan, it is important for international students to receive the experience they have imagined and create these bonds that they may utilize in their futures. These methods would also help domestic students digest the increasingly globalized world many domestic students face, particularly when entering the business world, and not remaining culturally ignorant to some of the most successful nations in the world. Ultimately, this movement to integrate international students into the Ivy League community at large is an obligation that should not be taken lightly by these schools.

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lrngo users in over 190 countries

Portrait of a Woman Blogger on an HP Laptop after Frederick Carl Frieseke
Top 5 International Student Blogs
International students are faced with many new things when studying abroad: a new city, back to back colorful and ornate concrete structures, each containing a different ambience with music overflowing through the orifices onto the street, new people, unrecognizable eyes, noses, and lips shuffling past in an amiable yet distant way, and a new language, an unfamiliar dialect entering your ear and moving past comprehension. Breaking through the social barriers of a foreign land poses challenges for an international student, but with a willingness to adapt, there will be an awakening of the senses by experiencing life in an unfamiliar way. The blogs listed below help to connect international students to each other, and the nation they are studying in, by covering topics like Visa/immigration, competition, daily experiences and career choices.

Top 5 International Student Blogs
  • Study Link
    Studylink provides a blog covering a wide variety of topics, with career tips, cost information, and information on how to fit in while studying abroad. Studylink allows you to search distinct courses offered around the world for individual study programs. They also have an advice section with specific concerns about financial information, entry requirements, visas, and pathways to study abroad.

  • International Student
    The blog at International Student is organized into categories, directing your questions, concerns, or curiosity toward a link containing information on scholarships, study sections, ESL, and student travel. As a member with International Student, there is an open forum for students to post thoughts or questions based on the area/nation of study or general topics and communication with administrators within the site.

  • I-Student Global
    This blog contains student posts about day-to-day things like balancing full time school work and having a job, interviews, and career paths all from the perspective of international students traveling and studying abroad. I-Student Global also gives insight to specific degree programs and scholarships offered at schools internationally.

  • CollegeXpress
    Membership with CollegeXpress grants access to a blog with articles about a range of topics, from cultural immersion to finding the right college for an individual path of study. The CollegeXpress home page makes finding the answer to any query simple, and contains listings for school rankings, scholarships, and graduate and summer programs.

  • Top Universities
    Top universities’ website blog addresses what it’s like to study at a certain university with first-hand accounts produced by international students. This website also has a university ranking system- ranking the university by subject, faculty, country, or city with additional application and financial information.

  • Photo Credit:Mike Licht

lrngo users in over 190 countries

Woman Writing International Resume on Lptop
International Resume Writing
Whether you are writing a resume to work abroad or a resume to a company based internationally and hosted domestically, it’s important to know the differences between how one would write an international resume and how one would write a resume for US employers.

TIP #1 International companies are looking for employees with skills they can’t find near them.
For a country to approve an international employee for a company placed domestically, the company must prove that an international applicant is more qualified than candidates applying domestically. That means if you are applying to a company in a country that speaks a different language, you should be proficient in that language. Similarly, you must prove in your resume that the job is good for you (in addition to you being good for the job), and your objectives both career and value wise should match that of the international company.

TIP #2 There is a difference between the English we use in the United States and British English.
If you are applying for a position in an international English speaking country, make sure to find out which type of English is commonly spoken in that country. There are notable written and spoken differences between the various different versions of English, which are separated into three general categories: British Isles Dialects, North American Dialects, and the dialects of Australasia, according to Wikipedia. Most European countries use the grammar and vocabulary of the United Kingdom Standard English, so if you write a resume in American English, it may appear sloppy and full of typos to somebody who is more familiar with Canadian, Australian, or British spellings.

TIP #3 Send a paper copy.
It’s always a good idea to send a paper copy in addition to an electronic copy to make sure that your resume gets received. The electronic copy should be in an internationally acceptable format. If you haven’t heard back from your company in two weeks, it’s a good idea to check up with them to ensure they received your email and ask if they would like any additional information or references. Don’t be worried if you are not contacted for months after submitting an application, the process to go abroad often takes much longer; use this time to apply for a visa if you haven’t already.

TIP #4 Your resume should concentrate less on your technical skills and more on your ability to adapt to change and accept other cultures.
Highlighting your “personality and cross cultural skills” is important to international hirers. Hirers want to know you won’t be stumped by an overwhelming culture shock or language barrier. Concrete examples of experiences you have had in other countries adjusting to outside cultures, tolerance to cultural difference, adaptability to language divisions, acceptance and appreciation of relevant backgrounds, etc. will all benefit your resume and prove to your employer that international work is the best option for both the company and the applicant.

TIP #5 Be aware of different resume standards across borders.
According to Jean-Marc Hachey, a well-recognized career advisor, “ninety-five percent of the international jobs open to entry-level North American university students looking for professional international work will be with North American based employers or international organizations.” Regardless of where your country is based there may be differences in resume standard. Most companies abroad will accept longer resumes (up to 3-4 pages) because of the information they expect you to include regarding cross-cultural experience and personality traits in addition to your technical skills. Some international companies also expect a photograph of the applicant on the front of the resume. Some countries also use different terms that mean the same thing like “cover letter” in some countries mean the same thing as “letters of interest” and “motivation letters” in others. Mary Anne Thompson, the founder of, also suggests someone that speaks the same language as where your company is located should review the document if possible to check for culturally appropriate and relevant language. She also advises applicants to review the standard paper size in the country you are sending your document to (not everyone uses 8.5x11), so that no information from your resume is missing when the company prints it out.

Writing a resume can be challenging and frustrating, so make sure you reread and edit, reread and edit, reread and edit and give it to as many people as you can to reread and edit. Double check spelling and grammar (some of the simplest errors are sometimes the least obvious) and triple check you’ve spelled all proper nouns correctly and used the proper pronouns (name of the company, name of the recipient, and name of the applicant are all super important). Make sure you end your resume with a bang: match the objective of the company with your own goals and you’ll have that international job in no time.

Photo Credit: Sascha Pohflepp

lrngo users in over 190 countries

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