Jeonghyun Kim

PHOTOS: Global Expo 2015 at Georgetown University

by Jeonghyun Kim - Posts (16). Posted Monday, April 20th, 2015 at 10:05 am

Georgetown's Global Expo 2015The Georgetown International Student Association and Office of International Programs held the Global Expo on Saturday, April 11. The Expo gives students a chance to experience their classmates’ cultures – from food, to music, to traditional performance. Check out photos from the Expo below.

Jeonghyun Kim

Finding Authentic International Food, On- and Off-Campus

by Jeonghyun Kim - Posts (16). Posted Thursday, April 16th, 2015 at 4:41 pm

KoreanFoodEach year, thousands of international students come to the United States to complete their higher education. Leaving home and living abroad is a big major transition in life. And one of the first obstacles many of these students face is one of the most prominent: adapting to new food.

For many international students, it’s a struggle to find the food they grew up with while they study abroad, far away from their home country.

Se-Hoon Park, a student at Georgetown University, said that the only time he can eat authentic Korean food is when he goes back his family back home in Korea.

Nothing beats home cooked meals (even for American students). But many international students miss home cooked meals even more because of the stark difference between the food they’re used to eating and food in the U.S. Some international students say that they are not really used to American food, and that it is too greasy for their tastes.

“I miss my hometown cook,” said Zhou Shen, a student at Georgetown University.

Many international students complain that their school’s cafeterias don’t cater to international tastes with specific meals or dishes.

“I don’t have a chance to eat Korean food on the campus,” said Park. “Most cafeterias provide just simple food such as sandwiches and hamburgers, even though the owner of one of the school cafeterias [at Georgetown] is Korean.”

A woman picks up local beef at Lotte Mart in SeoulMany students try to satisfying their craving for authentic food from their homeland by venturing off-campus. But even at restaurants providing traditional countries’ menus, the food is often Americanized.

So instead, they head to supermarkets to try to cook the meals themselves.

“Usually most of Korean restaurants in D.C. don’t fulfill my appetite because it is American style Korean food,” said Park. “So, I and my friends sometimes cook Korean food together.”

Large grocery stores usually have a section of international food ingredients they can use to cook with – especially if the city has a large international population. And the chance to cook authentic food also gives them a chance to cook with friends and share part of their culture.

“I usually go to Whole Foods to get some ingredients,” said Shen. “It is near my house and I like to buy organic food instead of American junk food.”

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: All About the Student Visa Process

by Andrew Palczewski - Posts (14). Posted Monday, April 13th, 2015 at 10:56 am

EducationUSAWebinarAnother helpful webinar from EducationUSA: on Thursday, April 16, at 1300 UTC (9 AM ET) they’ll be holding an interactive discussion on everything you need to know about the student visa process.

Do you have questions about the steps to obtain a student visa? Wonder how long the the process will take? Want to make sure you’re taking the right steps? Find out on Thursday – additional information can be found below.

EducationUSA Interactive: Student Visas
Thursday, April 16 – 1300 UTC (9 AM ET)
Click here to access the webinar

Do you have questions about applying for your student visa? On April 16 at 13:00 UTC, join the next EducationUSA Interactive webchat to learn about the U.S. student visa process. Tune in to get information about the types of student visas, the visa interview and more as Consular Officer Laura Stein explains the process of obtaining your student visa and answers your questions live. Join us and get one step closer to studying in the United States!

Jeonghyun Kim

Survey Shows the Way for Schools to Keep International Students Happy

by Jeonghyun Kim - Posts (16). Posted Thursday, April 9th, 2015 at 3:37 pm

12

International students are overall very satisfied with their study abroad experiences, according to the I-Graduate Analysis of Student Satisfaction, which finds four factors have the greatest influence on the international students’ satisfaction: local atmosphere, learning quality, attitude of professor, and friendliness of the schools.

The analysis could be very useful for U.S. universities looking to improve on the success of their international programs – and improve future students’ experience by highlighting what factors make international students recommend a university to others.

For four students at The George Washington University (GWU), the report is useful in a different way: they researched the international students’ satisfaction rate of 2014 for their marketing research class.

Byeonggwan Lee, one of members of the research group, said that their research is important because international students can contribute to the diversity and the global reputation of the university. It’s especially important at GWU, which has one of the highest percentages of international students of any school in the U.S., according to U.S. News Education.

“I am sure that there are a lot of international students [here],” said Qing Chen, a student at GWU. “In one of my classes, every one of my classmates is Chinese, except for one classmate from the Middle East.”

According to the report, the quality of professors is the most significant factor affecting students’ education satisfaction. Students also commented on professors’ attitudes with international students, including how willing they are to assist foreign students and how they give international examples rather than using examples relevant only in the U.S.

“When we have a team project for marketing class, many professors usually give examples of certain American domestic companies,” said Lee. “Usually, international students don’t have a background with domestic companies, so we have to research and study more than American students.”

Academics are very important for international students. International students are more likely than domestic students to look for a school with good professional development, according to Study Portals. They may also focus on schools with good language support and subject tutors.

“Academic-level language is hard to speak because it requires us to use unfamiliar words,” Ji-yoon Lee, a student at Georgetown University. “I want to have more opportunities to talk about academic subjects with tutors or classmates.”

Campus life also is a significant factor in international students’ satisfaction with general university life in the U.S. Campus life involves health services, school activities, and whether a school has a campus or city atmosphere. University services are one of the ways schools can create a satisfactory campus life experience. International students may need cheaper and more optional health care services, help completing necessary paperwork like immigration forms, and help adjusting to life in the United States.

Another area international students marked as important? Activities and social clubs at their universities. These, they said, are a big opportunity for international students to spend their free time and to make new and lifelong friends.

“Our international office has a coffee hour, and I can make friends at the meeting, “said Chen. “However, it is still hard to make American friends because most of school social clubs that the school provides are for only international students.”

Ultimately, the survey not only shows the areas important for international students who want to have a complete educational experience, but the areas universities can focus on to meet those needs.

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

April Fools’ Day: International Students’ Chance to Play Tricks

by Jeonghyun Kim - Posts (16). Posted Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 at 8:38 am

People might use visual tricks to fool their friends – like this one at the Trick Eye Museum in Singapore, which makes it look like the man is sky diving when the photo is inverted (Reuters).

Happy April Fool’s Day! Even though it is not an official holiday like Valentine’s Day, April Fools’ Day is celebrated with pranks and tricks every April 1 in the United States.

The holiday began during the switch to the Gregorian calendar, which considers April 1 as the first day of the year. When the calendar was first implemented, some people refused to think that the first day of the year was April 1, so the day became one to play tricks on unsuspecting victims – hence the name April Fools.

April Fools’ Day is celebrated in different ways throughout the world; but, the main purpose in the United States is carrying out hilariously harmless pranks on friends for fun. Many international students have celebrated in their home countries, and are looking forward to playing tricks on their new friends in the U.S.

“I celebrated April Fool’s Day when I was in high school in Korea,” said Ji-Yoon Lee, a student at George Washington University. “We played fun jokes on teachers.”

But while international students may also celebrate the holiday, they may embrace a different style of joke than American students because of their different culture.

In Korea, Lee’s classroom in Korea was separated by gender, giving boys and girls an opportunity to prank each other on April Fool’s Day – and prank their teachers. One year, Lee says, the boys and girls changed classrooms to confuse their teachers. Another year, they swapped clothes.

Ser Jamil Aslam, an international student at Georgetown University, also fondly remembers celebrating April Fool’s Day in Pakistan.

“We pretend that we had an exam…on April Fool’s Day,” and then told friends that they had forgotten to study, Aslam said.

Other countries around the world have different April Fools’ Day traditions. In France, the holiday is known as Poisson d’Avril, which translates to April Fish. In India, rather than April Fool’s Day, people celebrate Holi, a festival on March 31 where people play jokes, toss colored dust on to others, and wear face and body paint.

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

Traveling Outside the U.S.? Don’t Forget Your Forms!

by Jeonghyun Kim - Posts (16). Posted Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 at 9:39 am

ImmigrationFormsWhether international students want to return to the home country, or explore Mexico, Canada or any country nearby the U.S during their spring break or summer vacation, they have to make sure to bring the appropriate immigration documents, including SEVIS I-20/DS-2019 – the forms that certify that an international student is eligible to study in the United States.

To protect internationals’ status in the U.S., both the I-20 (F-1 students) and the DS-2019 (J-1 students/ scholars) have to confirm the last signed date for travel by an immigrant advisor. The signature is expired after 12 months. If the date is expired, international students will have trouble re-entering the U.S.

Schools emphasize the importance of this travel signature on immigration documents when students first start orientation.

“The travel signature…shows that the student is continuing their status when they re-enter…[and] the students is continuing to meet the requirements of their status, as confirmed by a school office,” said Sean Milton, an assistant director for international education at Northern Arizona University.

If you do forget your travel forms, though, don’t worry! Here are three ways to solve problems that come up when international students forget to get travel signatures on the immigration documents.

First, if an international student forgets to get a travel signature, the fastest and best way to fix the problem would be to send immigration documents by express mail to the international office of their school for signatures. Most schools are able to receive express mail, so the process usually takes within a week or less.

Another way is to get a new copy of I-20 from your school – most schools’ international offices can send an updated copy of the form directly to international students if they don’t get travel signature before leaving.

But if you don’t have enough time for either of those options, there is a third way: you can bring some additional documents from your college that certify you’re a student. Two examples – an unofficial transcript and a receipt of payment of tuition – are easily to obtain from your school profile online. While not ideal, these forms will allow a port of entry officer to give you an I-515, which allows international student entry to the U.S in F-1 or J-1 status for 30 days.

But remember: even if you now know how to solve these common issues with immigration forms, the easiest way to solve a problem is never to face it at all – so make sure to keep your documents safe before, during, and after you travel!

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

Stay, or Get Away? The American Education Tradition of Spring Break

by Jeonghyun Kim - Posts (16). Posted Wednesday, March 25th, 2015 at 3:18 pm

SpringBreak_03252015Spring break – a much-welcomed week off from school for American students – is coming soon. For American students, the break offers a chance to vacation with friends or visit family. For international students, spring break is a new experience.

Sehr Jamil Aslam, a student at Georgetown University, faces her first spring break this year. In Aslam’s home of Pakistan, there is no such thing as spring break; instead of having a spring break, Pakistan’s higher education system has a shorter spring semester than a semester in the US, which usually starts in January and ends in April or May.

While Aslam is excited for her first spring break experience, she can’t decide what she is going to do. While most students go home during the spring break, it is too short a time for her to return to her home country.

“I don’t want to go back to my country during spring break,” she said. “If I go back home, I have to take a plane for eighteen hours. Also, I might get jet-leg. “

So, many international students – including Aslam – decide to stay at their school during the break. Even though they’re not traveling, these students can use the time to take a break from homework and exams during the semester. Others prepare to study for the rest of the semester.

“It will be great time to take a rest in the middle of semester,” Aslam said. “I want to prepare for the rest of my semester’s work.”

Other foreign students take a more traditional approach and find a vacation destination for spring break. A lot of international students want to visit another city in the U.S. or go to another country nearby the U.S., which can give them new experiences outside of class room.

“I am going on a cruise in Florida with my friends,” said Jian Sun, a student at Georgetown University. “The spring break is a great opportunity to travel in the U.S. because I am really busy with studying during the semester.”

According to U.S. News & World Report, some of the most popular destinations for spring break include: South Padre Island, Texas; Cancun, Mexico; and the Bahamas – three places considered top vacation destinations for many international students.

Volunteers“I am planning to go to somewhere nearby the U.S. too if I have enough time,” said Jian Sun.

Another way to spend the spring break is to find volunteer opportunities.  Since school facilities are closed during the break, some school offices prepare special events for students. Emory University provides a volunteer program in which its students have an opportunity to volunteer internationally, regionally and locally.

No matter what they do, international students have an opportunity to experience a unique part of the American education system. Just make sure to plan ahead in order to maximize your spring break time – in fact, you might already want to start thinking about spring break for next year!

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 Interactive: Sports on Campus

by Andrew Palczewski - Posts (14). Posted Sunday, March 15th, 2015 at 7:18 pm

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-3rd Round-Tennessee vs MercerAs we’ve written about before on Student Union, sports can be a significant part of the American college experience – from showing school spirit, to just enjoying a new experience.

On Tuesday, March 17 at 1300 UTC, EducationUSA will hold a web chat with two international student athletes about college athletics, including how to watch and how to participate. Click here for more information, and read their announcement below.

One of the great things about attending a U.S. school is the opportunity to participate in sports on campus! On March 17 at 13:00 UTC, join the next EducationUSA Interactive webchat as a panel, featuring former international student athlete and NBA Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo, former collegiate athlete Morgan O’Brien of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ Sports United and two current international student athletes, helps you learn about all of the options to participate in sports on a U.S. campus. Whether you’re interested in becoming a student athlete or excited about attending school games, this web-chat will give you both fun and important information about the sports culture on U.S. campuses. So join us to get your questions answered and find out more about studying, and playing, in the United States of America!

Jeonghyun Kim

Master Your MBA Application: Research, Respond, and Revise

by Jeonghyun Kim - Posts (16). Posted Friday, March 13th, 2015 at 10:16 am

MBAAs the business world grows increasingly global, companies are seeking professionals with global experience. Many American companies look to hire employees who have a lot of international experiences, and who have spent time studying abroad and learning new languages.

That may explain the high number of international students enrolled in American business schools – 613,000 this past year, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

It’s easy to see why so many international students are studying in the US.  Despite the struggles that come with studying in a foreign country, the experience gives them a competitive advantage in the international labor markets.

But beyond the business school admissions test known as the GMAT, two of the biggest struggles for international students are composing personal statements and conducting interviews. Specifically, this presents two challenges for many international students: learning a non-native language and dealing with cultural differences.

As a foreign student in Georgetown’s Masters in Business Administration (MBA) program, Sang Eun Kim understands that it can be a struggle for international candidates to prepare their applications. So he started the Armada-Essay (www.armada-essay.com), a start-up program at Georgetown to help international students’ admission process.

“From my experience, I know what foreign students’ common mistakes and misunderstanding are in their writing and interview,” says Kim. “I want to improve the experience of foreign business students who are not familiar with the English essay.”

Here are three recommendations from Armada-Essay consultants on how to successfully write your admission for a US MBA program.

  1. Research the school program: Before students even think about applying to business school, the first step should be figuring out what you really want to do, and deciding what you want from an MBA program. Conduct the basic research about school admission and find a school program that matches your professional goals. Most schools essays ask students: what do you want to do – really– and why do you want to apply to our school?“ Make sure to research the program based on business schools’ characteristics,” says Kim. “Each business school has various programs; however, [certain] schools provides some specific programs. For example, the Tepper School of Business (http://www.tepper.cmu.edu) at Carnegie Mellon University provides a computational MBA program, which might appeal to candidates who are interested in the fields of computer science and business.”
  2. Meet seniors and alumni: Meeting people who have already studied in the school program is really big help for not only understanding the school, but getting admitted. Seniors and alumni are already experienced the admission processes, including writing a personal statement, interviewing, and taking the GMAT. They may be able to give you valuable tips on what to do to get in, and information about the school if you’re admitted. “Knowing seniors is beneficial to a candidate,” says Kim. “In the long run, seniors will give you more class and job information after you get admitted.”
  3. Find editors:  Whether you are an international student or American student, it’s important to find a strong editor for your essays.If you write a personal essay by yourself, you might overlook details in your story because you already know it. It can make for an essay that administrations struggle to understand. Even if you think your essay is perfect writing, you should let some people at least give comments or suggestions for revision. If your paper is error-free, it will help your chances of getting in to an MBA program.

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

Three Steps to Making New Friends in the U.S.

by Jeonghyun Kim - Posts (16). Posted Thursday, March 5th, 2015 at 4:48 pm

Friends_03052015International students sometimes have trouble making American friends for the first time. They can assume American students don’t hang out with international students based on negative stereotypes.

“I think my several Chinese friends are struggling to make American friends,” said Di Chen, a student at University of Arizona. “Especially the difference in food is a difficult part for most of my Chinese friends.”

American students, meanwhile, believe that international students don’t enjoy social activities and extracurricular clubs because of cultural barriers.

It seems like each group is faulting the other.

But in fact, the belief that it’s hard to making international friends or American friends is a misconception. Both groups want to make friends in college; many Americans are open to friendships with international students – perhaps more so than other cultures – and many international students want to make American friends.

The National Communication Association’s Intercultural Friendship: Effects of Home and Host Region, explains that international students can gain global experience from friends. International student who put in the work of making American friends can reap improve their English, learn American culture, and fulfill a more well-rounded American education.

So how do you make friends as an international student? Here are three recommendations to make friends in the U.S.: attend cultural events, share your story, and enjoy common interests.

  1. Attend a cultural exchange event – many universities provide a lot of cultural exchange clubs, international student organizations, or religious groups. These events are good ways to have opportunity for making new friends. American participants who attend are already interested in another countries’ culture at a cultural exchange event. International students will have a great opportunity to teach about the culture, food, and customs.
  2. Share your story – all students are excited to have close friendships with others, and they need to feel a sense of belonging. If international students meet an American student on campus, they shouldn’t hesitate to start a conversation. American friends will be really glad, because even American students feel everything is new during freshmen year.
  3. Find common interests – if international students just share their own story about family, culture, friends from home, new friends may grow bored if there are no common interests. “Be outgoing, “said Chen. “I am not afraid to communicate with others. Usually I find the same hobby and share it.” Maybe you and your new friends like the same sports, music, or food. Find things that you share in common, and use those to bond with your new friends.

Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and be willing to make both new American and international friends in college. Getting to know people in college will be the first step to expand your insight and experience about another culture and help you feel at home in a different country. And who knows – it may be the start of a lifelong friendship.

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

Students Speak: On Having Surgery in the U.S.

by Jeonghyun Kim - Posts (16). Posted Monday, March 2nd, 2015 at 12:46 pm

HealthInsurance2In a follow-up to her post last week on student health insurance, Student Union writer Jeonghyun Kim interviews one of her classmates on how she dealt with an injury during her time studying in the U.S.

When international students are sick in the U.S., they have to struggle with not only illness, but living in an unfamiliar environment without family.

Mengzi Wang, a Georgetown University student, recently had surgery to reconstruct her kneecap in the U.S. She said that as an international student, it was hard to be sick without the support and assistance of family.

“The most terrible thing was fighting with the fear,” said Wang. “It was my first surgery and no family was around me. I couldn’t imagine how much the surgery makes me hurt.”

Mengzi’s fear also caused exhaustion, which made it harder for her to recover from her injury after surgery.

“I can just bend my leg 90 degree now and it is very painful,” said Wang. “I have a lot of troubles when I commute to school.”

But fortunately, Wang has friends in the United States who helped her after the surgery: her classmate from high school came to Washington to take care of her for first couple days after surgery, and her roommate helps by picking up food for her at the grocery store.

“It was inconvenient to do some things by myself, but friends helped me and I am fine now,” said Wang.

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

“Insure” You’ll Stay Healthy in the U.S.

by Jeonghyun Kim - Posts (16). Posted Thursday, February 26th, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Health Overhaul Applying for BenefitsAmerica’s health care system is unique among industrialized democracies: there is no universal, government-sponsored health care plan for all citizens. Most Americans pay for private health insurance.

Without health insurance in the United States, a surgery or illness could cost thousands of dollars; according to The Commonwealth Fund, Americans pay more than people in other advanced countries when they are sick.

If international students get sick in the U.S. without health insurance, it could lead to costly expenses. So, many schools require international students to purchase health insurance plans before they arrive in the U.S. to minimize the insurance costs.

For international students, there are two main ways of acquiring health insurance in the U.S.: student health insurance provided by their university, or private medical insurance. But international students often have limited information and not many options.

“School insurance plans are very expensive,” said Minwha Lee, a student at Columbia University. “Usually American students are under their family’s health plans. International students don’t have family in the U.S., so I need to pay insurance by myself even though I have an insurance plan in my country.”

A number of private companies provide some insurance plans for international students. But as health insurance consultant Bishakha Chatterjee notes, “Some schools have specific coverage requirements for international students,” limiting students’ options.

These limits are especially inconvenient because they can make it even more difficult for international students to find a plan that fits their needs. Even then, their insurance may not cover certain procedures.

“Most insurance doesn’t cover dentistry and optical checkups,” said Lee. “Some international students wait until the semester is over and then they get dental service in their home countries.”

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

CampusUSA: Community College – An Affordable Start to a Great Education

by Andrew Palczewski - Posts (14). Posted Monday, February 23rd, 2015 at 10:43 am

Community CollegeFor American and foreign students alike, one of the biggest concerns about college is cost – specifically, the price of tuition. Students want a high-quality education, but they don’t want to go into debt to get one.

The compromise? Community college. As CampusUSA writes, community colleges allow students to earn credits they can apply at a four-year university for a fraction of the cost.

Check out their post here, and find out why community college may be the right option for you.

 

Jeonghyun Kim

Photos: Asian Students Bring Lunar New Year to Georgetown University

by Jeonghyun Kim - Posts (16). Posted Thursday, February 19th, 2015 at 12:47 pm

Lunar New Year 8Many Asian associations at Georgetown University held 2015 Lunar New Year Celebrations with cultural events and food. International students work together cooperatively in small and large groups to celebrate the Lunar New Year in the U.S.

Lunar New Year 2Students who are involved in the Korean Graduate Students Association enjoyed a Lunar New Year party on February 6. They served Korean traditional dishes and celebrated with all of the other Korean international students. Despite the small number of Korean students in Georgetown’s student body, the celebration helped students share their story in the U.S. and remind themselves of their home.

Lunar New Year 5

The Chinese Students and Scholars Association had a Chinese New Year festival on February 14. The event was a good way to both find many friends in Chinese community at the university, and to celebrate the Lunar New Year without family.

Lunar New Year 6 The Asian Pacific American Law Student Association also hosted their annual Lunar New Year celebration on February 10. There were a lot of delicious Asian foods and performances from Georgetown’s Filipino Dance Group, offering a great chance to learn more about different Asian cultures.

Lunar New Year 3The Asia-Pacific Forum’s Lunar New Year potluck party featured food that different groups representing their respective cultures. The Forum members encouraged everyone, including people from cultures that don’t celebrate the Lunar New Year, to enjoying the East Asian celebration of reunion and traditional dishes.

“We have held a yearly potluck event that’s been extremely popular with members,” said Lilian Lee, a member of the Asia-Pacific Forum. “I heard from the past president that it was their most well-attended event of the semester last year, so we are hoping for another good turnout this year.”

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

Lunar New Year in the U.S.: Not Just “Chinese” New Year

by Jeonghyun Kim - Posts (16). Posted Thursday, February 19th, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Taiwan Chinese New YearHappy Lunar New Year! 2015’s Lunar New Year is February 19. Even though Americans don’t celebrate the Lunar New Year, many call the Lunar New Year “Chinese New Year.”

However, from late January to the middle of February, China, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore and many Asian countries celebrate the Lunar New Year as national holidays. The dates of celebration are similar because many countries in Asia interpret the lunar calendar the same way.

While Asians celebrate the Lunar New Year in different ways, all celebrations have one common feature: family reunions. Many go back home to spend time with family, even if they live far away, and have New Year’s Eve dinner – the most important holiday dinner in China and many other Asian countries.

But many Asian international students in the U.S. who celebrate the Lunar New Year can’t be with family. So instead, they call or Skype with them, and cook traditional food with friends.

Cheng Jing, a student at the University of Arizona, went to a Lunar New Year party with other Chinese students so that he can feel the warmth of family.

“The most important thing of the Lunar New Year is to get together with all family,” said Jing. “For students who study abroad, we cannot get together with our family, so we celebrate the Lunar New Year with other Chinese students who also study abroad.”

“Northern Chinese usually eat dumplings for the New Year,” Jing said. “We make dumplings together, so we can spend more time with family.”

Vietnam also celebrates Lunar New Year. In Vietnam, Lunar New Year day is called Tet Nguyen Dan, which means “the first morning of the first day.”

Hien Minh Le is from Vietnam, and is currently a student at Miramar College in San Diego, California. Le came to the U.S. in April 2013 to study. Her mom’s family lives in San Diego, so she usually celebrates the Vietnamese home-style New Year with them.

“Lunar New Year in the U.S. is an exciting time for me because I can meet my family,” said Le.

She said that her family eats special food during the Lunar New Year. Ban Chung (or sticky rice cake) is the most traditional special food for the Vietnamese New Year celebrations. It is made of sticky rice, pork, and other various ingredients.

“We also have traditional food which is square cake are called Banh Chung,” said Le. “We fill a plate with five types of fruit which sit on the ancestor’s altar during the New Year, too.”

Gathering family together and praying for ancestors is also one of the Lunar New Year practices among Koreans.

“I will miss this New Year reunion because I am in the U.S., but I will call my family,” said Gwanseok Yoo, a Korean student at College of English Language in San Diego. “I like New Year’s Day because I can eat many delicious foods and get together with my family.”

During their celebrations, Koreans wear the traditional clothes, play folk games, eat traditional food, and meet family. In the morning, all family celebrates ancestral rites, and elderly people give children money and good wishes for the New Year.

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.

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