Jeonghyun Kim

Photos: Sharing the International Spirit – Without Leaving the US

by Jeonghyun Kim - Posts (2). Posted Friday, January 23rd, 2015 at 2:22 pm

GroupPhotoInternational students sometimes get lumped together as one large group, like when people talk about “international students” studying in the US. But within that group are dozens of different ethnicities and cultures.


At Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies, a recent event –  “International Spirit” – promoted cultural exchange and gave students an opportunity to deepen their understandings of different cultures.

Many countries around the world were represented, with international students from Bangladesh, the Philippines, Romania, Korea, Mexico, China, Pakistan and many other countries participating not only as observers, but as representatives of their countries.

10930127_903933602984076_7955344349986013131_n“I loved the involvement of the international students,” said Arlene Herrera Gomez from Mexico. “I believe that our differences are so interesting. I am really happy because we perfectly illustrate the diverse spirit of Georgetown.”

Participating students decided how they were going to explain their cultures to their peers. Student wore traditional clothes, cooked traditional foods and played songs from their countries.


Gomez decorated the Mexico booth with a Mexican flag and brought guacamole, nachos, dulce de leche (a Mexican dessert), and coconut.

“I think that the event was successful,” said Gomez. “A lot of people came and were truly interested in learning other countries’ culture.”


But the event wasn’t just for international students – students, faculty, and school staff had the opportunity to attend the event and experience different cultures.

“I am so surprised that many people know about my country,” said Miao Li from China. “People at least know one or two cities in China.”

10930871_903933556317414_3611870045785456487_nLi wore a qipao, a traditional Chinese dress that she brought from China. She thinks her qipao can explain Chinese culture well: It is not only the Chinese traditional costume but also the symbolic Chinese color, red.

At the end of the event, participants were hopeful that in the future, even more people would be able to have the experience of cultural exchange—without even leaving Georgetown..

“I hope we can have a larger space next time, so more people can come and join us,” said Li.

Jeonghyun Kim is a VOA intern for the English web desk. She is from South Korea, and is currently pursuing her Masters in Professional Studies in Journalism at Georgetown University.

Jeonghyun Kim

International Students Using Social Media to Find US Housing

by Jeonghyun Kim - Posts (2). Posted Thursday, January 15th, 2015 at 12:54 pm


International students coming to the US to study can face problems such as being home sick, dealing with the language barrier, and getting accustomed to their new home. One of the most daunting tasks is finding a place to live – especially if you’re searching from overseas.

But as the number of international students coming to the US has grown, more international students are using social media networking to find roommates and housing, even before they come to the US.

The first problem is that most international students don’t have someone to guarantee them find housing. But many schools now have websites and social media accounts to help students find housing prior to arriving in the United States.

Kyung Hwan Lee, a student at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) University, didn’t want to miscommunicate with housing officers when he tried to find U.S. housing for the first time.

“I was afraid about if I could believe them or not, so I visited the housing office and talked,” says Lee.


From the Georgetown Korean Graduate Students Association Facebook page, a listing for student housing.

During Georgetown University’s International Graduate Orientation (IGO), officials tell students about their housing Facebook page, and how students can share information about available housing. The University of Maryland, College Park housing office also gives students information about finding housing online.

Another way for foreign students to find housing is through social media groups made by school seniors or alumni. Many schools students have student associations for specific countries, and they share apartment information within the group. They also give feedback and tell students about the ideal places.

“Schools recommend some housing, however, the Korean community information website is more helpful,” says Lee. “The Korean community understands Korean students’ situation, so it uploads more detailed information” and more options.


Jeonghyun Kim is a VOA intern for the English web desk. She is from South Korea, and is currently pursuing her Masters in Professional Studies in Journalism at Georgetown University.

Andrew Palczewski

EducationUSA Online Workshop: Applying to College in the US (January 14, 5 PM ET)

by Andrew Palczewski - Posts (10). Posted Friday, January 9th, 2015 at 11:03 am

EducationUSAEducation USA – an organization partnered with the US State Department to encourage study in the United States – is hosting an online workshop with tips on applying to college in the US. See below for details, and a link to the online registration form:

Are you finishing up your application to a university in the US or about to start and have questions? Join a web chat on January 14, 2015 at 5 p.m. in the evening with Michael Nixon, Acting Director of Admissions at Catholic University as he helps explain some of the common problem areas of the application process for US universities as well as answer questions from the live global audience. This is a perfect program for those who are in the middle of applying or are thinking about applying to a US university in the near future.

So join the program and get your questions answered to help you finish that application. Complete the following form to know more -

Andrew Palczewski

“Study Abroad” Confronts Stereotypes of Foreign Students in US

by Andrew Palczewski - Posts (10). Posted Monday, December 8th, 2014 at 12:02 pm

As we’ve talked about before, studying in the United States can lead to misconceptions – about school, about peers, and about American culture. But the misunderstanding can come from both sides: while foreign students might have unfounded beliefs about the United States, some in the United States have their own misconceptions about foreign students.

A new film, called – appropriately enough – “Study Abroad,” looks to address some of the stereotypes of Chinese students attending school in the US. Producer Cathy Jiang used her own money to finance the film, which confronts the assumption that Chinese students studying in the US are rich, and have a easy life.

“In the end, I want the audience to see that international students are normal people, and that we are not just partying and having fun in life,” Jiang told NBC News.

Visit to learn more.

Thanksgiving in the US: Friends, Food, and Freezing Weather

by Guest Post - Posts (70). Posted Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 at 11:14 am

Thanksgiving1Student Union writer Gwen Mugodi recently traveled to the US state of Maine for Thanksgiving, which took place on November 27. In this post, she talks about the experience of learning about the US from our holidays, traditions, and food – and seeing snow for the first time!

Thanksgiving is a big holiday in the United States. There is of course the historical importance (controversial as it might be). It is said that in 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the US colonies. But this celebration has a darker side that’s often overlooked: the contact between the colonists and Native Americans that led to their meal led to the decimation of millions of Native peoples. But nevertheless, this holiday is still celebrated today with the classic combination of food, family and American football.

As a newcomer to almost all things American, I must say Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday so far. The food is spectacular and plentiful. The company is merry. I had my first taThanksgiving3ste of Thanksgiving this year with a friend from my Middle Eastern Studies Class, a resident of Maine who managed to convince two of us poor Brown University freshmen living far away from home that this holiday was better spent in his home state. For those who are not familiar with this beautiful state, it is in the north-east New England region. It is undoubtedly one of the most naturally beautiful places I have seen in my life.

Maine also happens to be one of the most freezing colder places in the US. It welcomed me with snowfall on Wednesday morning, the first I have ever experienced in my life. No one had warned me that snow falling would be such a brutal experience. I walked out of the house with nothing but tennis shoes, and when I walked back in only about 45 minutes later, my feet were an almost numb solid, with some of my toes actually physically stuck together.  On the second day, I was more prepared (so I thought): I brought out my snow boots and went for my first sledding experience.

That went well enough. At the end of it, all my body parts were functional and maintained some sense of feeling in them. We did, however, decide to go to the water (the house is about two blocks away from the waterfront). I got so excited at the seeing water in a form other than snow that I put my feet in the water and got my feet wet. Now I not only had no boots, but also a bad case of sneezing from the cold that had now permeated my bones (and, it felt, quite possibly my soul).

Sitting down to a good, home-cooked meal after months of often terrible dining hall food at college was enough to distract me from my weather troubles. The fact that I was seated nearby the wood stove definitely helped (my hosts had heard of my non affinity to cold and had graciously placed me in the right spot).

Thanksgiving2Meeting different people and being allowed to share in family/friends experiences is definitely one of the better ways to get to know the culture of a people. For example, I know that if you live in Maine, you barely need a refrigerator – you can just pop your beverages in the snow and you’re good to go. I also learned that you should never waste an opportunity for a good pun.

I am really thankful to my amazing friend and his wonderful family for this beautiful experience – snow, sneezes, and all.

Andrew Palczewski

“All About America”: China Soars, US Stalls in Study Abroad

by Andrew Palczewski - Posts (10). Posted Thursday, November 20th, 2014 at 9:53 am

Infographic - IIE Open Doors International Students 2014The latest post from VOA’s “All About America” blog looks at a recent report on study abroad trends – both students coming to, and going from, the United States. The “Open Doors” report from the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the Department of State has some interesting findings, including:

  • The number of foreign students studying abroad is growing at a faster rate than U.S. students studying abroad.
  • While nearly a third of students coming to the United States come from China, China is number five on the list of study abroad destinations for U.S. students – the top four countries are all in Europe.
  • Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil were the three countries with the biggest growth in students coming to the U.S. for study abroad. They’re also three countries where the government is providing resources and scholarships for students who wish to learn overseas.

Click here to read the full post, and find out more about the latest trends in studying abroad.

Andrew Palczewski

Coming to the US to Study? Numbers Show You’re Not Alone

by Andrew Palczewski - Posts (10). Posted Thursday, November 6th, 2014 at 10:13 am

StudentsTestAre you planning on coming to the United States to study? New data says you’ll be in good company, according to an article from the International Business Times.

The College Board, which administers the SAT – an exam many US colleges use as one of their admission criteria – saw a record number of foreign students taking the test this year. By their estimation, more than 300,000 foreign students from 175 different countries took the test this past year.

Not only are more foreign students taking these important tests – they’re also applying for student visas in record numbers, with the number of F-1 visas more than doubling within the past ten years, from 219,000 to 534,000.

Students Speak: “International Students in the US – Misconception vs. Reality”

by Guest Post - Posts (70). Posted Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 at 9:15 am

This week’s guest student post comes from Lei Wu, an international student studying at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Lei looks at some of the popular misconceptions international students – including himself – have about studying in the United States, and how these beliefs can be far from the truth:

10151228_736547403064436_1544862590954238472_nAs a Chinese student, I heard of a lot of things about the US from Chinese media before I came to America. Nevertheless, when I started my studying here, I found that a lot of things are different from that what I thought I knew. In my opinion, I feel that there are many misconceptions or stereotypes about the US, whether they come from foreign governments, movies, TV shows, or other channels.  I now see international students coming to the US may misunderstand the real “American style.” In this post, I’d like to pick up a few of these misconceptions and discuss them:

Misconception No. 1: US students don’t study hard or work hard:
This misconception is perhaps the most well-known among international students. Many think American students do not like studying, and that they only want to play sports or go to parties.

Perhaps some US students are not interested in learning, but there are a large number of American students who study very hard. At University of Nevada, Reno, I see many young American working on assignments in the library, designing experiment s in labs, working on problems in the classroom, or working overnight on important projects. So it is not fair that people judge American students as not studying hard – I’ve seen first-hand that they do.

I don’t know why this rumor has been spread so worldwide – maybe it’s how American students are portrayed in movies and television. One of my American friends told me that American usually like cozy and casual, so they may give foreigners an image that they are not caution and dedicated. But this doesn’t mean they can’t be serious and achieve success.

Misconception No. 2: American people are not smart:
First, we have to define “smart,” which isn’t easy. Some students are good at math, some of them are good at art, but can you say the former are smarter than the latter? I don’t think it’s possible.

I am the only international student in my class, so I study with American students every day. In my experience, they are no more or less intelligent than any foreign students. In class, I see my classmates spark excellent ideas all the time that I never come up with.

I talked about this misconception with other international students before. They thought that this view may come from grades – that, to some extent, international students may get better score than American ones. But, as some of my fellow international students noted, higher scores does not always mean smarter.

For example, one of my fellow international students said that he often got high grades on tests compared to his American classmates, because he already knew some of the material from middle and high school. But despite the grade difference, he’s found that the American students he’s worked with have better perspective and methods for projects than he does. The American education system is different from other countries; consequently, American and international students have their own advantages and own skill sets that make them good students. But that doesn’t mean one group is smarter than the other.

Misconception No. 3: US society is dangerous
: Personally, I think this misconception comes from American entertainment media. Movies, TV dramas, and even some American animation have created an interesting picture of US environment, full of violence, crimes, guns, drug, gangs, and so forth.

Indeed, these things may happen, however, they are very exaggerated.  For example, guns: there is a rough estimation that there are 233,000,000 guns in the US, but the ratio of gun crimes to guns is about 1:200,000, which means that the chance that you will encounter a gun crime is even lower than the chance of catching a cold.

Guns is just one of many examples. Generally, the US is a safe place. There is an infamous rumor that you do not want to walk down the street alone at night because you will be robbed or killed. When I arrived in US, I believed that. But some friends told me that it is a ridiculous thought – they often walk alone at night, they have never encountered any danger.

Of course, no country is absolutely secure, and crime and other incidents exist in every place all around the world. But the US media are so sophisticated, any negative event in the society is covered in detail and published around the world, causing people to think of the US as unsafe. As far as I am concerned, if you are careful and aware, you will avoid any danger.
These misconceptions are only the tip of the iceberg. But I hope they correct some common mistakes when thinking about the United States, and help show a better picture of how the US really is.

Andrew Palczewski

“Reflections from Mai Mano: Focus On That Which Matters”

by Andrew Palczewski - Posts (10). Posted Thursday, October 16th, 2014 at 10:11 am

RebeccaManoEducation USA is a great resource from the US Department of State for students looking to study abroad in the United States.

Among the information the site offers are blogs with tips about the study abroad process, from finding a school, to applying, to living and studying in the US.

Rebecca Mano, a country coordinator in Zimbabwe for Education USA, recently shared her advice on a host of questions from students preparing to study abroad in the United States. She looks at how to tackle applications, crafting a list of accomplishments, and responding to essay questions. But her overarching message for students? “Focus on what matters.” When you do, she says, everything will fall into place.

Students Speak: “Becoming a College Football Fan”

by Guest Post - Posts (70). Posted Thursday, October 9th, 2014 at 10:35 am

IMG_0016Students studying in the US can prepare for living in a different country, taking classes, and making new friends. But one thing that’s hard to prepare for is seeing college sports up close. When guest blogger Munyaradzi Mahiya came to the US from Zimbabwe to study at the University of California and Berkeley, he knew he wanted to experience an American college football game. The experience was better than he could have anticipated:

Coming to the United States, I knew that football was something that I wanted to experience and maybe understand a little more. This was strange for me – I have never been one to try new things out, so the fact that I was so excited about something I was so unfamiliar with freaked me out a little. I even researched how the sport is structured, and what to shout at what time (in my defense, I didn’t want to embarrass myself at my first game!).

After a whole week of anticipation, I couldn’t take it anymore, IMG_0017there was this atmosphere around campus that made everybody eager to be clad in blue and yellow on game day – the University of California (or Cal) colors. Game days here at Cal are those days when people lose themselves a little and party a little bit more than usual.

I attended my first football game ever in September 2014, and I must say, I was impressed not just by the game, but by all of the theatrics, from the band, to the cheerleaders, and above all, the more than 30,000 fans at the game. It was a huge victory for Cal, who beat Sacramento State by 55-14. Talk about getting introduced to something new by your school making you proud! I was definitely proud to shout Cal’s slogan, “This is bear territory!”

After the whole experience, all I can say is that it’s better to witness the game and experience being a football fan here in the USA than watching it on television. Now that I have seen a football game live, and got to scream, “TOUCHDOWN!” at the right moment, I have to go back to what I am used to: getting my butt kicked in that French class at 11am on Monday…

…that is, until next week’s game.

Andrew Palczewski

Michigan State University to New International Students: Know the Law

by Andrew Palczewski - Posts (10). Posted Monday, October 6th, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Waldo police departmentIn last week’s blog post, guest writer Gwen said it can take some adjusting to study abroad in the US.

An article from Michigan State University’s student newspaper reminds foreign students studying in the US that one important thing to adjust to is the rule of law. All students – regardless of country – must follow US, local, and school rules.

Read about some of the common regulations encountered by foreign students, from traffic rules (be careful making left turns!) to grabbing drinks with friends (make sure you’re 21, and be prepared to show ID), and remember: the easiest way to avoid breaking the law is knowing the laws in the first place.

Students Speak: “I Wasn’t Ready”

by Guest Post - Posts (70). Posted Wednesday, October 1st, 2014 at 12:15 pm

I Wasn't Ready

Worried about the start of school? You’re not alone.

Gwen Mugodi was too. A student from Zimbabwe studying at Brown University, Gwen had her own reservations about studying in the US, living up to expectations, and confronting challenges.

In our first student-submitted post on the new VOA Student Union blog, Gwen talks about preparing for – and facing – the first few weeks of college, and gives advice on what you too will face:


I remember applying to college as if it were yesterday.

The frantic panic to get all the supplements to the Common Application “perfect” before the January 1 due date: “Why our school? What can you add to the campus?” The efforts to make my seemingly mundane life into an original rendition of the “Life of Pi.”

Then the financial aid applications, and the long wait to hear back.

The nicely worded regrets that assure you, “It’s not you, it’s us”.

Then, finally, the acceptance. The joy that accompanies it. And for those who need it, hopefully the nice financial aid package that accompanies it.

The next months are a flurry of preparation: Immunizations. I20’s. Visas. Packing. Then, suddenly, you’re at the airport, and it’s at that moment when everything sinks in. All that application stress was all for this. You’re finally leaving home. Freedom!

But then sneaks in the doubt “What am I doing? This is crazy. Let’s just all go back home and pretend I ever thought of this.”

It’s been almost a month since I had my little “This is crazy” moment. In freshman-college years, a month is a really long time. Such a long time that, even after a month, I now feel old enough to be dishing out advice to “pre-froshies” (freshmen to be) and fellow college students in this blog post.

My first piece of advice: you won’t be ready.

No matter how great you are at planning, you simply won’t be ready. Take me for example. I took a gap year after high school.  I got to spend a lot of time with my family, strengthening bonds that would be tested by long distances and expensive phone calls. I also gained a lot of invaluable work experience and I would like to think a great deal of maturity. But when it came down to that departure moment, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. All the same, teary-eyed and all, I got on the plane.  And just like that, I was all on my own.

And that’s really what’s so different about college from anything you will probably have experienced. You start to make your own decisions. From the small –“Am I going to have three meals in a day to ensure I don’t wither into nothingness?” – to the bigger ones – “Is it really necessary that I party from Wednesday through to Saturday? Would I miss too much if I only partied Fridays and/or Saturdays?”

I also wasn’t ready to be a minority. I come from a predominantly black country – heck, a predominantly black continent. I never had to deal with being the “only African/black person” in a class. And initially, that was a lot to deal with. Questions of identity snuck into my head. “Do I represent Africa by virtue of coming from an African country? Does my not knowing the answer to ‘How many languages are spoken in Africa?’ make me ignorant? A disgrace?”

I wasn’t ready to have professors who treat me as equals, who are not offended when I challenge their ideas; professors who in fact encourage it.

See, I was told to expect this. In fact, as an intern at EducationUSA, I lauded the US education system for these same qualities, its diversity in the broadest definition of the word, its liberal learning and teaching methods. I was told there would be culture shock. And that feeling of being lost. I still wasn’t ready.

I guess the point of my post is this: you won’t be ready. But you’re not supposed to be ready. And once you embrace this, college transition goes a lot smoother.

And the best thing I’ve found about being a freshman is, you can bet you’re not the only one who is feeling that way. We are all dealing with issues of transitioning and independence and making new friends and simultaneously trying hard to look cool.

So in that moment, when the application process comes to the end and you finally start college, remember this: you won’t be ready. And no one else will be ready, either.

But take it from me – after you get through those first few weeks, you will be.

Andrew Palczewski

Searching for a School? This Graph Could Help

by Andrew Palczewski - Posts (10). Posted Monday, September 29th, 2014 at 9:29 am

USNews_09252014 US News and World Report is well-known in the United States for its annual rankings of the best colleges and universities in the country.

But some new information recently published by the news magazine focuses specifically on international students studying in the US, including which schools have the most international students, which schools give international students the most financial aid, and more.

Click on the thumbnail to view the full infograph, or read more on

Andrew Palczewski

Welcome Back to School…and to the New Student Union Blog!

by Andrew Palczewski - Posts (10). Posted Friday, September 26th, 2014 at 9:11 am

Philippe Cousteau Jr., Vanesa De La Cruz, Claudia Corahua, Carlos Riofrio, Joshua Carrera

As the new school year gets underway, we’re pleased and excited to announce the brand new VOA Student Union blog!

In addition to highlighting valuable information for students looking to study in the United States, we’ll be showcasing experience and advice from students who are currently studying or have studied in the US. If you’re interested in sharing your experiences and writing for the blog, email us at

Check back on Monday, September 29, for our first post – we’re looking forward to sharing all the information you’ll need about US study abroad!

Andrew Palczewski

Coming Soon: the New Student Union Blog!

by Andrew Palczewski - Posts (10). Posted Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 at 9:53 am

Voice of America is pleased to announce that we’re re-launching the Student Union blog! Check back in the next couple of weeks for brand new posts from students studying abroad in the United States.

We’re also looking for new contributors who want to share their stories. If you’re a student currently studying or working in the US, or if you studied or worked in the US in the past, you can write for the Student Union blog! Email if you’re interested or if you’d like more information.

The Student Union is…

A place to hear stories about studying in the U.S. Our bloggers have come from all over the world to U.S. universities, and they'll be sharing their experiences, advice and more.

Learn more about this blog »

Share your own story!
Tell us about your experiences applying to the US, studying in America, or doing an exchange, and we may include it on the blog.


Glossary of Confusing Words

Find definitions of confusing words and terms about studying in the U.S. in our Glossary of Confusing Words.

All the words were submitted by YOU, so visit the glossary to see the words that have been defined already and to suggest your own.