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New international students bring diversity in growing numbers
8/25/2017
Jennifer Muller  |  Office of Communications  |  media@aub.edu.lb  | 

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Among the crowd of new students who flocked to AUB’s campus this week was a group of students hailing from international locales, both far and near. In tandem with the new student orientation was a special welcoming program for international students, attended by more than 140 new foreign students.

Offered by the Office of International Programs (OIP), International Student Welcome Day is open to all students coming from outside Lebanon, whether they are graduate or undergraduate, here to get a degree or only visiting for a semester or two. Director of OIP Hala Dimechkie explained that the group this year is more diverse than usual and was larger than expected.

Over the past few years, the number of international students attending the event has been steadily increasing, from 81 two years ago to 106 last year, and more than 140 this year.  The exact number of enrolled international students will not be known until after the drop/add period, but it is clearly a growing pool. 

As in previous years, the highest numbers of accepted students are from North America—the US and Canada—and neighboring countries: Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. Yet the diversity of countries is also on the rise, with accepted students from 61 different countries, including Argentina, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Cote D’Ivoire, Djibouti, Romania, and Bulgaria. 

Almost half of those attending the welcome event were visiting and exchange students who require more individualized academic assistance since some are coming to take a raft of university courses whereas others are visiting AUB only to learn Arabic.

One group of exchange students, for example, have come from Aarhus University in Denmark. These undergraduates majoring in Arabic and Islamic studies are required to spend a semester in a Middle Eastern country in order to learn the language and write a field report on their semester abroad.  Others, like Miriam from Switzerland, are graduate students who want to take high-level courses at AUB while also broadening their cultural horizons and taking advantage of all that Lebanon has to offer.

OIP encourages all international and regional students to avail themselves of its international student services, although Dimechkie noted that those coming from this region may feel that they do not need any help adjusting to life in Lebanon In fact, there are even some Lebanese who are taking advantage of the international student services because they have always lived abroad. 
 
Among the degree-seeking international students are those coming as part of special programs such as the newly-expanded MasterCard Foundation scholarship program and the Tomorrow’s Leaders scholarship program of the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). Degree-seeking students have chosen AUB for varying reasons, including the quality of specific academic programs and because of its cultural milieu.

“AUB is both western and eastern at the same time, so the language and the culture are a little bit more familiar but at the same time it is more western here than a university in Jordan,” said Sara, who is coming from Dubai but is of Jordanian nationality.

No matter where they come from or how long they plan to stay, OIP connects all international students with an OIP mentor who helps them acclimate to living in Beirut and studying at AUB. The highly successful OIP Mentor Program assists international students with getting to know AUB and coordinates cultural tours and social events throughout orientation week and throughout each semester.

In addition to helping new international students coming to study at AUB, the Office of International Programs manages AUB’s study abroad programs, advising AUB students on opportunities to spend a semester abroad, either as part of an established exchange program or as free-movers. 
Story Highlights
  • Among the crowd of new students who flocked to AUB’s campus this week was a group of students hailing from international locales, both far and near. In tandem with the new student orientation was a special welcoming program for international students, attended by more than 140 new foreign students.
  • Offered by the Office of International Programs (OIP), International Student Welcome Day is open to all students coming from outside Lebanon, whether they are graduate or undergraduate, here to get a degree or only visiting for a semester or two. Director of OIP Hala Dimechkie explained that the group this year is more diverse than usual and was larger than expected.​
 
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Email: media@aub.edu.lb
 
 
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