Laurier International is using a separate O-Week to help reduce culture shock. Major collaboration in the international office resulted in a year full of big plans in order for its students to feel welcome and well equipped, starting with IO-Week (International O-Week).
IO-Week is made up of sessions, workshops and activities to help students learn more about, not only life as a student in a different country, but also life as a Canadian citizen.
“Simple things like having a shower curtain on your shower … the little things that Canadians do that maybe from where they’re from they don’t,” said International Orientation and Communications Assistant Melissa Webster.
The Canadian Culture Transition workshop allowed students to understand traditions, slang, and where to go for help.
Webster also mentioned their group work session where students worked in groups and put together a presentation. This is important because, as Webster explained, the concept of group work is non-existent in some countries.
Emma Ruetz, one of the international peer mentors, discussed the idea of a monthly cultural night where international and domestic students get together to celebrate a different culture.
“I thought that was a great way for Laurier to reach out and show that we are here, join us, we can all be together,” said Webster.
Looking back at the success of last year’s event, Webster decided to incorporate a “Welcome Back Social” event for upper international students and first year international students to meet and hang out.
“There’s going to be snacks, there’s going to be games, things like that where they can mingle with people who are like them. It makes it less stressful for them I feel,” said Webster.
Laurier’s International Students program is also equipped with international peer mentors that act as friendly faces for students who are not comfortable talking to international office members in a higher position.
“I invited one of the new exchange students to my place to have dinner with me because she had no idea how to cook,” said peer mentor and international student Natalie Lu.
Peer mentors are in charge of creating events for their students year round to help keep them involved, answer any questions, help them get in touch with school resources and touch base with them to make sure they are transitioning smoothly.
For any questions regarding Laurier’s international students program, email Melissa Webster at email@example.com.