We spoke with Mai-Lin Poon, associate director of international student life, about the Office of International Services and different ways to help international students get involved with the university.
Indiana Daily Student: What is the biggest thing you see international students struggle with?
Poon: Not being close to family and friends. And, you know, moving across an ocean for four years. I think that's pretty incredible and courageous, especially if they've never been to the U.S. I don't think I could do it. Gosh, I am so in awe of our international students with what they accomplish here.
What services does the Office of International Students offer other than providing help with student visas?
I would say a big chunk of our resources is being able to provide answers to questions about work authorization, what documents you fill out or travel questions. I think that’s a large chunk, but we help with everything from emergencies to social programming and support.
Our office also has a passport facility. So for students who are domestic students thinking they're studying abroad and they need their passport, or have questions about getting their picture taken or things like that, they can come in and use our office as well.
And then what advice would you give to an international student?
I would say, and I think this kind of goes for all incoming first-year students, is being open to new experiences and not being afraid of trying something. Trying to make friends and making those connections is tough because everyone is going through it.
What is the International Student Ambassadors program?
It’s a program where we have current international students answer questions for incoming or potential students. They can answer the questions such as, ‘How did you choose IU?’, and ‘What's the hardest transition point for you.‘ They are such a wonderful group. You'll see them during orientation, you'll see them throughout the year.
Is there anything else you would want incoming international students to know?
I guess confer resources and services that students use. For example, food ordering, what apps to use. You know, having the B-Town Menus app and making sure they have the DoubleMap app for the buses, which are really popular. Also the apps if the students want to ride the scooters.