A Clean and No-Worry Zone for International Students–Sungil Kim

After finishing my first master’s program back in 2006, I returned to South Korea, but everything I learned during my time at the University of Kansas did not leave me. Whenever I came across something about the U.S., only one word came into my mind: Jayhawk. Why did I return to the University of Kansas for my second master’s, not going anywhere else? Here are some answers for you.

The prioritized concerns of mine are how I can learn and how I can experience in what kind of environment. The University of Kansas, a research university, is an institution that can provide students with plenty of resources, academic excellence, and great cooperation with the community.

Through these opportunities, the student can become globally competitive and mature mentally, cognitively, and socially. In particular, a liberal arts education in an environment full of academic resources should be a priceless asset to international students. Furthermore, working with faculty and staff make it easy to become a part of the environment. The faculty and staff are professional and passionate enough to help your adjustment and success; they do not hesitate and are always ready to help students.

An active campus life also makes you part of the story. You come to be excited for one of the world legends of college basketball. Whether you are young or old, American or international, you can feel you have the Blue Spirit. If you are not at the University of Kansas or in Lawrence, you cannot feel the same sense of Jayhawk Pride as one who is here.

Living in the city of Lawrence, Kansas, must be of the most benefit to international students. Everyone in Lawrence, whether students or residents, always smiles and keeps an open mind for everyone, even those who come from different backgrounds. The great weather of four seasons in the woods and the hills can help you fully enjoy nature. In the residence halls, you can learn American ways of life with your domestic peers; if you look off campus for housing, you are sure to find a cozy place. Wherever you choose, you will learn how safe, clean, and reasonably priced everywhere is.

Regardless of where you are from, the experiences you have had, or what you believe in, you will not be alone or isolated at the University of Kansas because it will always support you and go the distance to encourage you in your studies and adjustment to life in the United States. I believe the experiences you will get at KU enable you to achieve whatever you want and go wherever you want in the future.

Come join and be part of the most prestigious history.

Everyone at the University of Kansas is fully ready to welcome you all.

ROCK CHALK~INTERNATIONAL JAYHAWK~GO~KU!!!!!

Sungil Kim is a first-year master’s student in higher education. He also holds an MSE in Sport Studies from the University of Kansas. He is from Seoul, South Korea. 

Impressions of the United States–Anh Le Nhat

To all the international Jayhawks – I hope you guys survived (or are surviving) these midterm weeks! In addition to test pressures, the weather has been really cold lately, making it challenging to go outside! That being said, I do not think any of us regret coming here, as we are all proud Jayhawks who love our university! In this blog, I want to talk to you about my personal impressions of the United States, where I have studied for the last three years:

  1. Diversity: As the third largest country in the world, which is home to more than 320 million people, it is no surprise that America is culturally diverse. Nearly every region in the world has influenced American culture, as it is a country of immigrants. Over time, America’s culture has been shaped by the cultures of Africans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asians. Even within the University of Kansas, I experience cultural diversity, as lots of my American friends are of different ethnicities, such as Indian, Chinese, Russian, and African. American’s cuisine also reflects the diverse culture, as I have experienced a lot of different cuisine while I travelled around the States.
  2. Time is Money: Americans are extremely punctual. People “save” time and “spend” time as it is money in the bank, and being on-time is highly valued and shows professionalism. One explanation is that America’s lifestyle is fast-paced, with lots of tasks to be completed throughout the day, so not being punctual will waste time for you and other people you are meeting with and is considered disrespectful. As someone who comes from a relaxed culture where people are generally tardy, I was surprised and overwhelmed at Americans’ punctuality when I first came here, but over time, I have learned to be mindful of my own time and others’ by showing up on time to meetings and gatherings.
  3. Friendliness: Unlike my country, where people tend to be formal and uptight when they get to know each other, Americans are very informal and friendly. It is not surprising for strangers to strike up conversations with each other at social settings, such as sport games and events, and I was surprised by this when I first arrived at KU! Fortunately, it turned out to be a pleasant surprise, as I was able to make a lot of good friends and get used to the culture, thanks to people’s friendliness.
  4. Individualism (or independence): Americans strongly believe in independence and treat every citizen as a unique individual, regardless of his/her background. People are proud of their individual accomplishments, initiative, and success and may or may not share those sources of pride with their elders. Americans consider themselves to be separate individuals who are in control of their own lives, rather than members of a close-knit, interdependent family, religious group, tribe, nation, or other group. As someone who was raised to rely and contribute to a close-knit family, I have definitely felt the difference in my time studying at KU, but I appreciate the opportunity to learn about different identities and personalities here, as I also believe that everyone is unique.

Here are my few impressions of America that I want to share with you guys. Let me know what you think, because I think it is definitely an interesting topic for discussion, especially under the lenses of international Jayhawks like us. Last but not least, have a great Spring Break, and until next time, peace!

Anh Le is a Jayhawk junior from Hanoi, Vietnam, majoring in Finance and Information Systems. He loves traveling, reading, playing sports and learning about business and technology. He is currently the Resident Assistant of Gertrude Sellards Pearson Residence Hall and a student in KU School Of Business. He is also in the Honors Program and is an International Student Ambassador for the Office of International Recruitment and Undergraduate Admissions.

Fun wintertime activities–Anh Le Nhat

To all the international Jayhawks out there – Welcome back to KU for the second semester! I hope you all had a great winter break, whether you visited your home country, stayed in Lawrence, or travelled around the U.S. I myself had an opportunity to go back to my home country and even had the opportunity to visit a tropical island – which was an amazing experience! I was in sandals and basketball jerseys for the whole time, and it was quite hard to leave the lovely weather and family to come back to Kansas during winter time! That being said, there are some fun wintertime activities that I hope to share with you all so we can enjoy winter a little bit more.

1. Going to KU Basketball games: It is the time of year again that most Jayhawks are excited for – basketball games against Big 12 Conference rivals! For all the new and potential Jayhawks who do not know, most KU students love KU Men’s Basketball, and the team has a strong tradition; most currently they have 10 straight Big 12 titles! I have been excited to watch young players like Kelly Oubre Jr and Cliff Alexander grow to become skillful players, as well as watch thrilling games against good teams such as Iowa State, Baylor, Oklahoma, and K-State! If you are a basketball fan, you probably do not want to miss out on any home games, as Allen Fieldhouse is called one of the best places to watch college basketball, and the atmosphere, passion, and unity are unforgettable! KU also has a great women’s basketball team who needs our support!

basketball

2. Playing in the snow: Although snow has been less frequent this January, we have had snow days for the last few years, and it was always a great time! Not only because there are no classes, but also because of all the snow that’s around. Snow creates opportunities to have fun outside with snowball fights, snow angels and sledding down the hills! I had a great time last year trying to sled, and even though I am personally not a big fan of snowy weather, I hope to enjoy the sledding experience again this year!

sled

3. Staying in and getting cozy: If you are not a big fan of the chilly weather and long for spring to come—I am there with you—another attractive option is staying in. Wintertime is a time to bake great delicacies—like cookies, pies, and cinnamon rolls–and share them with friends and family. Along with hot chocolates, apple ciders or buttered rum, you can have a great time inside sharing stories or catching up on your favorite TV shows on Netflix. A hot tub is also an attractive option in winter, which can help you decrease your stress and feel warm!

4. Volunteering in shelters: If you have some free time, I strongly recommend this activity! We are all fortunate to not have to worry about daily necessities like food and shelter, but volunteering will give you an opportunity to contribute your effort to help out other less fortunate folks, and appreciate your privileges. Helping others by volunteering will probably mean less free time for you; however, seeing the happy faces of everyone you help will warm your heart up in this cold weather! I recommend going to KU Center for Community Outreach (http://www.cco.ku.edu/) to start!

cco

These are the few activities that I want to share with my fellow Jayhawks, and I hope they are helpful to you! I hope you guys have a great semester ahead! Until next time, peace.

Anh Le is a Jayhawk junior from Hanoi, Vietnam, majoring in Finance and Information Systems. He loves traveling, reading, playing sports and learning about business and technology. He is currently the Resident Assistant of Gertrude Sellards Pearson Residence Hall and a student in KU School Of Business. He is also in the Honors Program and is an International Student Ambassador for the Office of International Recruitment and Undergraduate Admissions.

Money, money, money!–Melanie D’Souza

Now, now, now; I’m no financial expert (at least my father is, haha), but I thought it would be good to touch on this important subject, a delicate one indeed, which some people treat with respect, some with carelessness, and some, as taboo.

The expense of a college education may be one reason to touch this hot money topic, but the more important reason is financial independence. As we leave our homes but not necessarily the comfort of financial security, we must remember that it is important that when we graduate from this phase of life called college, we must emerge responsible, independent individuals who give back to our parents/family who we love so much—wouldn’t that bring much comfort to the whole family?  Also, we need to avoid a head-on collision with ‘the real world’ once we head out with cap and gown, ready to take on the world’s opportunities. Not only must we prepare ourselves educationally and professionally during these few years of college, but we must also prepare financially–it will definitely help us avoid much stress later on.

So I’ll give you a few places to start!

  1. BUDGETING. Super important! It’s easy to keep swiping that plastic card, but you don’t want to be living paycheck to paycheck.

Therefore, make it a small goal, no matter how small it is, to save a tiny amount of money every month until you get better about living on a certain budget. Prioritize how much you’ll spend per month on meals out and school supplies, and more importantly, how much you’ll need for your annual/biannual trip home during breaks.

  1. FINANCIAL LITERACY. Trust me, I’m still learning. If it weren’t for a few helpful websites, my CFO of a father, and some patience, I’d still be entirely lost.

But don’t worry, and pace yourself to learn a little bit more about money every year. One thing that might be extremely important to know about is the existence of a Student Money Management Services department at KU, which offers financial advice. Also, you may consider creating a free account with a website called Cash Course, which has informative articles for college students, which you can bookmark to save for later! And if you still have to fulfill those General Education requirements, try taking Finance 101/301 at KU!

  1. STAY ALERT. Perhaps the earliest money habit my father got me into was saving my receipts and making Excel sheets, thereby enabling me to track my expenses.

 When your parents are conveniently paying for everything through KU Enroll and Pay, or a scholarship covers tuition for you, it is easy to overlook what fees KU charges you, and how much each costs. So pay attention, check your bills regularly, and remember: sometimes you are able to waive a few fees, depending on your situation. Know where your money is going.

  1. STAY PROFESSIONAL. While you learn to budget your lifestyle, to save a little, and to keep track of your spending, you may also start making your first attempts at earning, step by step.

The smartest way to earn while not wasting time in employment you do not enjoy or wouldn’t claim is to look for those internships you can professionally and financially invest in. Look out for the career fairs, or simply consult the University Career Center at KU for a place to start. Summer internships are the best way to make efficient use of your college breaks while building your work portfolio.

In these times, while prices rise, financial difficulty seems to cloud certain families, the struggle becomes even more real. When President Obama recently visited KU, he most definitely touched the subject of a ‘middle class economy’ prevalent in the state of Kansas. No doubt, business magazines may seem like vanilla to some of us, but such financial knowledge always pays off (see what I did there!)!

Obama visit (2)

Good luck to you, and wishing you another successful year yet!

Melanie D’Souza is a junior from Muscat, Oman, majoring in Architecture at KU.  She loves travelling, writing, sketching and cycling. She is currently the Orientation Chair at Rieger Scholarship Hall Council and a fervent schol-haller and Riegerette.  She is also in the Honors Program and is a Student Ambassador for the Office of International Recruitment and Undergraduate Admissions.

It’s 2015….Almost!

Well, well, enthusiastic as I may try to be for the New Year to begin, I am sure as not ready for 2014 to end. It has been yet another wonderful year- so much has happened- internship, research, obtaining a driver’s license, taking challenging classes –more fruitful experiences at KU that have kept me on my toes enough to make the year go by quickly! I’ve been busy, I’m now tired, so tired, but I cannot wait to see what the next year brings! I hope that you are looking forward to the New Year too and that you shall decide to make the KU experience part of your 2015, if you haven’t planned to already!

Now, it’s time to talk about what’s hot and happening. Wintry weather, talk of Santa and Jesus’ birthday . . .  yep, it’s Christmas time. For those of us who celebrate Christmas, December is a special time of the year. The holiday season kicks in and is especially active in certain parts of the world–even Lawrence, KS, home to KU. Now, I’ve never spent winter break in the U.S., since I always have spent Christmas in Oman with my family, so I don’t quite know what a Lawrence Christmas is like, but I sure have an inkling!

One thing not to miss is a walk downtown. Closer to December, the trees of the Massachusetts Street are lit up to guarantee a pleasant wintry Yuletide feel! Cafes and restaurants start serving Christmas-inspired options on their menu, and all these are worth trying. Folks attempt to go ice-skating at either the Plaza in Kansas City or the brand-new Lawrence Public Library rink in Lawrence itself.  Christmas trees are up in malls and offices and other public buildings and people begin to sport ‘ugly’ Christmas sweaters, thus painting the whole town in red, green and white. If you like theatric performances, you should try watching The Kansas Nutcracker- a Kansas version of the famous Christmas-themed Russian ballet by Tchaikovsky that plays at the Lawrence Arts Center, downtown.

theme 4 Secret Snowflake

Thus the Christmas season kicks in much before Christmas Day itself, thus I have been able to experience so, but I’m sure as actual Christmas Day inches closer, it would be fun to indulge in the festivities, be they singing Christmas carols, attending traditional Christmas parades and winter formals and Yuletide dances, and what not! Here’s wishing you compliments of the season in the hopes that you will one day experience a Kansas Christmas! And best wishes for a Happy 2015 as well!

Melanie D’Souza is a junior from Muscat, Oman, majoring in Architecture at KU.  She loves travelling, writing, sketching and cycling. She is currently the Orientation Chair at Rieger Scholarship Hall Council and a fervent schol-haller and Riegerette.  She is also in the Honors Program and is a Student Ambassador for the Office of International Recruitment and Undergraduate Admissions.

Happy Thanksgiving!–Anh Le Nhat

As the fall semester comes to an end and the weather gets colder, going to class becomes a difficult responsibility for all students, who are in need of a break. Fortunately, Thanksgiving Break is here! While we all like a break to de-stress and relax before the last wave of exams, not all of us understand the meaning of Thanksgiving as an American holiday, nor do we know the fun activities that go along with it.

To start off, what is Thanksgiving? It is a holiday celebrated in the U.S. on the fourth Thursday in November to give thanks for the harvest of the preceding year. It is dedicated to celebrate family, friends, and food; families and friends gather to enjoy turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pumpkin pies while catching up with each other and cheering for football.  As an international student, I want to share with all my fellow international Jayhawks some ways you can enjoy this valuable break!

1. Celebrate traditional Thanksgiving day with a host family. If you’re eager to learn about the American experience on Thanksgiving Day, the best way is to connect with an American host family and live the experience yourself. Your potential host family could be the people who picked you up from the airport, or they could be the friends and roommates you are close with, so do not be reserved and give it a shot. You might miss out on a wonderful stay-over opportunity by not asking. If there are no friends who can help you out, check out ISS’s Betty Grimwood Thanksgiving Homestay Program–a wonderful program that has been running for almost 60 years. It gives you the option to either spend the day or spend the entire break with a trustworthy American family, and it gives you a great opportunity to exchange culture and enjoy traditional American food!

tree

2. Travel to different places in America for sightseeing. So you tried, but were unsuccessful with finding a host family. That does not mean you cannot enjoy your break to the fullest! If you like to travel and explore different places, maybe it is time to ready your back pack, gather a couple friends, and get going! Attractive destinations for Thanksgiving are New York City, where you can watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; Keystone, Colorado, where you can hit the slopes for ski season; or Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida to enjoy the magic of Thanksgiving and Disney World itself. One drawback is limited transportation options during Thanksgiving Break, as everyone is rushing back to his or her family, but a well planned and well budgeted trip will create your own unique Thanksgiving experience.

parade

3. Participate in Black Friday. You didn’t find a host family, travelling was too costly for you, and you ended up staying in Lawrence for the break. This might be the perfect opportunity for you to participate in the annual Black Friday–where you can get items for significant discounts. It marks the beginning of Christmas shopping season, and it is usually the busiest shopping day of the year, as people try to take advantage of the long weekend and prepare for Christmas. Even though Black Friday has been criticized for ruining the meaning of Thanksgiving Day, and traffic in the stores can be hectic, the experience of waiting, rushing, and getting good deals is definitely one-of-a-kind, and I recommend trying Black Friday at least once to get the full experience.

black friday

4. Relax, recharge, and get some work done. If you are not interested in any of the above options, and you just feel overwhelmed and in dire need of a break, Thanksgiving comes at an ideal time. Kick back and forget about school for a couple days, and work on some projects you have been neglecting. This applies to me as well, as I have been busy with school, work, and activities. I plan to relax and spend time for myself, as well as catch up with some work during this break. Finals will be around the corner when the break is over.

keep calm

These are the few ways to spend your Thanksgiving Break that I want to share with my fellow Jayhawks, and I hope they are helpful! Have a great Thanksgiving Break, be safe, and until next time, peace.

Anh Le is a Jayhawk junior from Hanoi, Vietnam, majoring in Finance and Information Systems. He loves traveling, reading, playing sports and learning about business and technology. He is currently the Resident Assistant of Gertrude Sellards Pearson Residence Hall and a student in KU School Of Business. He is also in the Honors Program and is an International Student Ambassador for the Office of International Recruitment and Undergraduate Admissions.

It’s Theme Time–Melanie D’Souza

Now, this may be of little account to the impressive party scene that some parts of KU offer, but one thing that really pumps up college students throughout the year is the availability of theme celebrations! It’s one thing we can really borrow from the American college scene. What’s more exciting than having a fun dress code to adhere to–and arriving at a party with your friends to see everybody decked out in a way that sets a different mood than just wearing your regular attire?

Fancy dress, costume parties–whatever you might call it back home, theme parties are here to stay at KU!

Decade Themes
This is definitely my favourite theme, as it transports you to another time period altogether for a night of guaranteed fun.  There’s everything from the roaring 20’s to 50’s rock and roll and 90’s grunge.  Rieger Scholarship Hall, my home for two and a half years now, hosts its annual 80’s dance around late September for the totally rad people out there.  Not only do people sport 80’s hairstyles by teasing their hair up, wear bright neon colours, and sport biker jackets and what-not, but the hall is beautifully decorated to welcome its wannabe 80’s with fabulous catchy numbers from the likes of Michael Jackson, Roxette, Madonna, Bon Jovi, Cyndi Lauper, Blondie, Whitney Houston, you name it! And there’s something for everybody, so if you’re not so comfy with rocking the dance floor, there are arcades, photo booths, craft tables, and snack tables set up.  You can even enjoy 80’s games like Mario Kart and Jenga while munching on some Pac-Man themed cookies and grabbing some fun 80’s props to capture your memories of the night.

theme 1

This is a wonderful concept that is reiterated in several theme parties on campus. Facebook invitations that keep you aware of how you need to dress and where you can arrive; carpooling arrangements to the location, and then a fun evening with decorations and an atmosphere that can entice you to have a good time.  Don’t forget to capture your memories.  They sure beat out the stress of a busy college life when you get to shake it off (see what I did there!)

theme 4

theme 7

theme 8

Game Themes
For those who love sport and enjoy the atmosphere that surrounds it. Game themes usually include getting your gameday wear on, sporting Kansas colours, and going to the game at the stadium or the Phog (Allen Fieldhouse, home to the famous Jayhawks basketball team) or enjoying a watch party with your friends, where you can enjoy the comfort of your TV set with good game snacks. Of course, what precedes the game is tailgating, where people socialize and snack to get geared up for the game.  The whole town is in such spirit, and it’s worth being a part of.

theme 6

theme 5

theme 2

Halloween
Hardly a week away, Halloween has an inevitable mention.  It is the biggest theme party of all time! Students dress up not necessarily scarily, but anything creative is greatly appreciated. I had the genius of a friend who made his own Iron Man costume, and I’ve had friends who have dressed up as everything from Disney characters to fruits and flowers! It’s always fun to put some work into your costume and capture those pictures of the interesting array! Visits to haunted houses, trick-or-treating, and horror movie marathons are just some fun things to go with this.  Combined with the dawn of autumn (called “fall” here in the U.S.), with cold weather setting in, warm-coloured leaves painting the town, and pumpkin deserts spicing up menus, college Halloween is a time to be reckoned with!

theme 9

I hope this post has taught you much about the things I love about the festivities at KU and the U.S. in general, and I hope it keeps you as pumped as it does me!

Melanie D’Souza is a junior from Muscat, Oman, majoring in Architecture at KU.  She loves travelling, writing, sketching and cycling. She is currently the Orientation Chair at Rieger Scholarship Hall Council and a fervent schol-haller and Riegerette.  She is also in the Honors Program and is a Student Ambassador for the Office of International Recruitment and Undergraduate Admissions.