By Monica Chapman
Ohio University threw out a red carpet for international students arriving by way of Port Columbus Airport this fall.
Now in its second year, a university shuttle service helped transport 180 international students from the airport to Athens in the three weeks preceding fall quarter, providing a warm welcome to students during the last leg of their journey. While final numbers won't be known for a couple weeks, international student applications were up 56 percent this year.
"The shuttle is really good for international students because most of them come with expectations of the 'wild, wild west,'" said Josiah "Zak" Nyangau, a graduate student from Kenya who chaperoned for this year's international student shuttle. "When they get people picking them up -- and (especially) when they get international students picking up international students -- they feel much more at ease."
Transportation and Parking Services organized the shuttle service in cooperation with International Student and Faculty Services and the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.
To further ease the transition, the university also is offering an international housing option.
All international students now can choose to reside in the Scott Quad residence hall during the 2008-09 academic year. For undergraduates -- who were housed at Scott Quad during international orientation -- this option simplified the move-in process and eliminated the need for relocation.
"The Scott Quad residence hall is a wonderful initiative," said Kyle McKenzie, associate director of International Student Services. "Our goals are to assist new international undergraduates with the transition to living in the residence halls and to provide support as they adjust to living in the U.S. and studying at Ohio University."
International Student and Faculty Services was well equipped to handle the record number of students at this year's international student orientation. The department more than doubled its student staff for orientation to accommodate the increased number of international students.
"Increased staff means more contact with students," said McKenzie, who organized the university's international orientation program. "This year, we're making sure the students are receiving information more personally."
Two housing advisers and 10 peer advisers were on hand to assist international arrivals, compared with last year's five-member advisory team. Staff provided counsel and support to 298 students at the graduate student orientation in late August and the undergraduate student orientation in early September. Last year, 266 students participated in international orientation.
The orientation programs included sessions on U.S. culture, legal rights, health care and immigration regulations. Information also was provided on local issues, including campus safety, housing options and diversity on campus.
A series of social events and activities for international students is planned in the quarter's opening weeks. For more information, visit www.ohiou.edu/isfs/.