As the 2012-13 school year begins, Weber State University students can see the results of their summer preparations to return to campus in the fall. While many students have readied their affairs on a local scale, some have organized their back-to-school plans at a global level.
WSU has thousands of registered students annually. Many of these students are attending while living very far away from their native countries.
The International Student and Scholar Center at WSU is a division of student affairs that helps with the organization and handling of international student matters and processes.
“We provide advising on immigration issues . . . and how they can keep their visas current and stay on top of things,” said Morteza Emami, ISSC director.
The requirements to attend WSU internationally can be many. One must pay a $65 fee after an international student application is filled out. Along with the application, candidates include clear copies of their passports, as well as bank statements and letters, a financial guarantee form to prove they have sufficient funds to fulfill legal regulations, and their educational records.
Before submitting their admissions applications, aspiring international students must also complete a placement test to measure English language ability. Students who do not meet required scoring limits register for mandatory ESL classes once during the school year.
In addition to assistance in legal matters, the ISSC offers social and personal support.
“We also provide advising on adjustment to life in the United States and college,” Emami said, “including a range of activities for them.”
The ISSC organizes many small and affordable opportunities for international students and anyone who is interested to socialize and learn about different cultures.
“Once a week we provide a ‘Coffee Break’ on Fridays that lasts for an hour,” Emami said. “Usually staff will make a small amount of food to share among those who come . . . (The activity is) open to everybody. (You can) come and meet other international students, and sometimes staff and faculty come. Sometimes the international students will do an event when they can talk about their country and their customs and their food . . . It seems to be pretty popular . . . It brings a lot of people together . . . It’s free of charge.”
Along with social support, the ISSC gives chances for students to adjust to the culture as well.
“In the fall we do a barbecue . . . so that all the international students and their friends can come together and have exposure to the American cuisine,” Emami said with a laugh. “We also do a banquet in the spring.”
Hamad Alyami, a WSU senior and accounting major, works as an admissions assistant in the ISSC. A native of Saudi Arabia, Alyami has attended and been employed at WSU since 2008.
“Being an international student, and coming from a different country and being away from your native country . . . it’s kind of difficult in the beginning,” Alyami said. “After a while, you just get used to the American culture, which is a good experience. . . . I’ve enjoyed it here.”
Alyami served as the WSU Saudi Club president in the 2008-09 school year, the International Students Club president in 2009-10, and an International Students Club senator in 2011-12. Within the international students organization at WSU, there are many different clubs to attend.
“There is the Chinese Club, the Saudi Arabian Club, the Korean Club . . . the Russian Club . . . and there is the International Students Club,” Emami said. “All the clubs are open. You don’t have to be Chinese to join the Chinese Club.”
The ISSC is located in Room 143 of the Student Services Building on the main WSU campus.