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COISO hosts welcome party, helps new international students transition to UM


Hundreds of incoming freshman students gathered for the Council of International Students’ (COISO) welcome party held on Tuesday night at the Rock. Amanda Herrera//News Editor

Just hours after students and their families were bustling through residential colleges with bins full of belongings, the Council of International Students and Organizations (COISO) held a welcome party aimed particularly at helping new international students transition into University of Miami.

Orientation week at UM is intended to provide new ‘Canes with opportunities to assimilate to campus life. However, for new international students, the week is not just about adjusting to a new campus but to a new country.

Zhizhou Ren, an incoming freshman from Beijing, China, calls UM “his dream school.” However, that doesn’t mean his first couple of days have been easy. He said one of the hardest parts so far has been adjusting to a foreign environment.

“Everyone here has a lot of passion. I’m not like other people that can approach others easily and get involved in an unfamiliar situation,” said Ren, an undeclared student. “In China, everyone plays computer games and here, it’s totally different here. Everyone enjoys their life, explores and is into art, music and different things.”

For COISO Treasurer Nimesh Nagaruru, the welcome event held at the Rock encouraged students, such as Ren, to get involved and feel at home on campus.

“They are a significant part of the population. They’re a part of the diversity that is Miami. By them contributing or getting themselves involved with an organization like COISO, they’re making sure that a part of them becomes a part of the UM family,” Nagaruru said.

According to the 2016-2017 UM Fact Book, international students account for 14 percent of the school’s population.

Daryl Teo, COISO’s vice president, said he remembers the challenges being a new international student at UM brought. Though Teo, originally from Singapore, spent his first two years of college in California, assimilating into American culture wasn’t easy. He said, similarly to Ren, he experienced culture shock.

“Coming from Singapore, our culture is completely different. It’s more conservative I would say even in terms of education. It’s pretty narrow-minded, and over here you get to do anything you want to that you have a passion in,” said Teo, an economics major.

As COISO’s vice president, he said he hoped the welcome party would help other international students realize they are not alone.

Throughout the two-hour event hundreds of students packed into large circles mingling and dancing to Miami club favorites including “Despacito” and “Wobble Baby.” Students huddled around each other challenging one another to dance battles. It was during this time that Yi Chng, a transfer junior from the U.K., felt more comfortable transitioning to her new home.

“A group of people that you don’t know, you’ve never seen before and you’ve never interacted with is scary but even if you haven’t done any verbal contact and you dance with them you feel like ‘hey this is a safer place,’” she said.

Teo, now a senior, said he hopes international students don’t get discouraged from difficulties and challenges to come.

“Just take it step by step. You will learn from your mistakes and develop as a person,” he said.

Correction, Aug. 17, 2017, 4:09 p.m.: A previous version of this story misspelled Nimesh Nagaruru’s first name. The article has been updated with the correct name.

August 16, 2017


Amanda Herrera

Amanda Herrera can be reached via email at and through Twitter at @_AmandaHerrera.

ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “COISO hosts welcome party, helps new international students transition to UM”

  1. lance johnson says:

    This first week orientation is so important. But, sadly, Trump’s contentious issue is yet one more thing that makes being an international student difficult, on top of our already complex culture and language. Assimilation assistance must come from numerous sources to aid these young people embarking on their life’s journey. Most struggle in their efforts and need guidance from schools’ international departments, immigration protection, host families, concerned neighbors and fellow students, and even informative books to extend a cultural helping hand so we all have a win-win situation.
    An award-winning worldwide book/ebook that reaches out to help anyone coming to the US is “What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to Understand Crazy American Culture, People, Government, Business, Language and More.” It is used in foreign Fulbright student programs and endorsed worldwide by ambassadors, educators, and editors. It also identifies “foreigners” who became successful in the US and how they’ve contributed to our society, including students.
    A chapter on education explains how to be accepted to an American university and cope with a confusing new culture, friendship process and daunting classroom differences. Some stay after graduation. It has chapters that explain how US businesses operate and how to get a job (which differs from most countries), a must for those who want to work with/for an American firm here or overseas.
    It also has chapters that identify the most common English grammar and speech problems foreigners have and tips for easily overcoming them, the number one stumbling block they say they have to succeeding here.
    Good luck to all at UM or wherever you study or wherever you come from, because that is the TRUE spirit of the American PEOPLE, not a few in government who have the loudest voice!

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.