Heller’s commitment to our international students makes up a core part of our commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity, which recognizes a broad definition of diversity reflective of differences that include, but are not limited to, age, race, ethnicity, language, nationality, visa status, culture, economic status and background, gender and gender expression, sexual orientation and identity, religion, political views, academic background and interests, abilities, learning styles and pace, physical appearance, and individual personality. International students make up more than a third of Heller’s student population, hailing from 39 countries from all over the world. Because of that, we provide several resources to help international students transition to their new academic and personal environment in the near future. Below, I’ve outlined several resources that international students can consult to help make this adjustment go as smoothly as possible.
Brandeis’ International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO)
The ISSO is undoubtedly going to be your biggest resource for all questions related to your visa, maintaining your student status within the U.S., and working during or after your program. Listed below are some pages that you might find especially helpful at this stage:
Graduate Student Orientation – included on this page are links to register for virtual events, like F-1/J-1 Immigration Session: Maintaining Status in the U.S. and Accessing Healthcare at Brandeis: What You Need to Know
Brandeis’ Intercultural Center
The Brandeis Intercultural Center serves as the umbrella office for 17 diverse student clubs and organizations, and provides a welcoming space for international students across campus. The center includes a resource room equipped with computers and printers, a small lending library of cultural books and videos, and a diverse array of cultural publications, as well as a conference room, multipurpose room, comfortable lounges, a patio and kitchen facilities, which students can reserve. They also host a number of events each year that are open to all students.
The University Writing Center
The University Writing Center is a place to talk about your writing and to get an extra pair of eyes on your paper. They offer support for writers of all levels in all subjects, pairing students with other graduate students to offer help ranging from understanding the writing assignment and getting started writing to making edits and revisions on your writing.
ESL Support and Professional Writing Support
Students in Heller’s fall semester Professional Writing course have access to tutors who can support them in both professional writing (structure/clarity/use of evidence/strength of argument) as well as ESL related issues such as basic grammar and vocabulary. If you have ESL challenges or concerns, you can meet with Student Services staff who can help you design and implement a plan to improve your written English, sharpen your listening skills and build vocabulary.
Brandeis’ Counseling Center
This is, I think, the most important resource I’ve listed here. In my previous job, I worked with many international students who struggled with the transition to living and learning in the U.S., and it was sometimes very damaging to their mental health. If you aren’t doing well mentally and emotionally, succeeding academically, maintaining your visa status, and accomplishing your goals becomes infinitely more difficult: there’s a saying in the U.S., “You can’t pour from an empty cup”, that really applies to these situations. I would really suggest that you make use of this resources early and often; counselors can help you work through any feelings of homesickness or stress that you may be dealing with to make sure that you are set up to succeed in your program.