New student orientation for incoming first-year students living in the United States took place from Aug. 18-20 this year. For international students and global nomads, however, it was more extensive. Their move-in day was Aug. 16 and their ARCH, ARCH 5, took place that evening and the next day on Aug. 17, a day before the rest of the first-years officially moved in.
The orientation this year was structured differently from orientations in the past, specifically for the purposes of promoting better interaction and integration of domestic students with those from other countries.
“Due to the large number of entering international students and the desire for them to integrate and make friends with domestic students as soon as possible, we decided to incorporate International Student Orientation into New Student Orientation,” Jill Munro, director of International Student Services (ISS) said. “[The international students] arrived on Friday and began ARCH 5 that evening. Saturday was ARCH 5 and Sunday was the day ISS focused on information which international students need specifically (e.g. regulations, getting to know ISS staff, a tour of the Wellness Center and getting to know fellow international students). They then integrated into the first-year class after move-in and participated in New Student Orientation on Monday and Tuesday.”
The orientation was also restructured this year to provide the students with a smoother transition into the College. Last year, international students had to attend orientation immediately after landing in the United States, and there were complaints about students not getting enough rest after fifteen-hour long flights. It has been reported that there will be a change to the structure to better suit the physical and mental state of those first-years.
“We know that many international students are jet-lagged when they arrive, and much of the information we think is important for them to know during orientation often gets forgotten by the start of classes,” Kendra Morehead, former assistant director of ISS, had reported in April, four months before the orientation. “Instead of asking international students to sit through session after session of information at the very beginning, we are splitting it up. There will be some important informational sessions, such as the F-1 Student Regulations session and a campus tour, during this ISO portion.”
However, it is unclear how the new structure aimed to achieve this, since first-years have reported that the orientation was hectic. International students still had to attend most of the events in the four-day long orientation. Moreover, this year, they were only provided with the option to ride the shuttle to College on Aug. 16. Last year, they were provided shuttle services two days prior to the orientation as well.
When asked about her experience in the orientation this year, Anuska Shrestha ’23, an international student from Nepal, replied, “It was fun, but I wish we had enough time to get over jet-lag. I have not had the chance to get enough rest until now, and since the classes have already started, I will have to push myself through the end of the week.”
While official surveys have not been sent out to students regarding their orientation experiences, ISS has already started thinking about improving the quality of orientation next year. Munro reported, “I think we will go back to a two-day arrival option as opposed to the one and we will have to talk about moving straight into ARCH when students are still experiencing jet-lag from significant travel times.”
In addition, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Ivonne García also commented on improving orientation next year. “This was my first New Student Orientation and International Student Orientation, so I’m unable to compare with previous years. That said, I will be participating in upcoming meetings with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion staff, as well as with Academic and Student Affairs so that we can evaluate what went well this year and what we can improve on for next year,” she said.