Jeonghyun Kim

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

by Jeonghyun Kim - Posts (11). 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 (13). 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 (11). 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 (, 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 ( 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 (11). 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 (11). 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 (11). 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 (13). 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 (11). 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 (11). 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.

Andrew Palczewski

EducationUSA Web Chat on “The Diversity of Choices” – Feb. 24, 1500 UTC

by Andrew Palczewski - Posts (13). Posted Wednesday, February 18th, 2015 at 9:42 am

Philippe Cousteau Jr., Vanesa De La Cruz, Claudia Corahua, Carlos Riofrio, Joshua CarreraWhether your beginning your college search, or preparing to head to the US soon, you’ve surely faced – and will face – numerous choices. Where will I live? What classes will I take? What should I expect from US culture?

EducationUSA, a US Department of State partner that encourages and helps foreign students to study in the US, is hosting “The Diversity of Choices,” a web chat aimed at answering some of the many questions foreign students have. The chat will be held on February 24 at 15:00 UTC (10:00 AM ET) in English (, Spanish (, and Portuguese ( Information, including how to register, is below.

ONLINE EducationUSA Interactive Webchat: “The Diversity of Choices”

When it comes to studying in the USA, there is a great diversity of choices!

On February 24 at 15:00 UTC (10:00 AM Eastern Time), join the next EducationUSA Interactive webchat as a panel featuring Lindsay Mathers Addington, Assistant Director of International Initiatives at the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and George L. Mehaffy, Vice President for Academic Leadership and Change of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, helps you find out which school is the right fit for you.

Find out about the diversity of institutions, programs, geographical climates, and cultures that you have to choose from when applying to schools in the United States. Whether you are just beginning to think about attending a college or university in the United States or you are ready to start your classes tomorrow, this webchat will give you information you need to succeed.

So join us at, get your questions answered, and find out more about studying here in the United States of America!

Location: Online at the links below:

Time: 15:00 UTC (10:00 AM Eastern Time)

Jeonghyun Kim

A Sweet Valentine’s Day for International Students

by Jeonghyun Kim - Posts (11). Posted Friday, February 13th, 2015 at 9:48 am

ValentinesDayWhat comes to your mind when thinking about Valentine’s Day, February 14? Do you imagine giving and getting chocolates and flowers, or you and your girlfriend or boyfriend celebrating with a romantic dinner at a restaurant?

Valentine’s Day has long been celebrated as a day for exchanging love messages. Many people who love one another or have a strong friendship with someone frequently exchange cards, chocolates, and small gifts on Valentine’s Day when they want to express their feelings.

International students also want to celebrate Valentine’s Day with lovers and friends. For some, it is their first Valentine’s Day. For others, their significant others can be thousands of miles away – too far a distance to travel to spend the day with them.

But despite the distance, international students celebrate Valentine’s Day in their own way.

“Girls gives boys chocolate on Valentine’s Day in Korea, “said Soung Hyun Park, a student at Santa Monica College. “I was so surprised that people in America know what the meaning of Valentine’s Day’s because we just celebrated without knowing the meaning” (the holiday is named after St. Valentine).

Many Korean students are surprised when they come to the U.S because boys usually give gifts to girls on White Day, a holiday celebrated by South Koreans, Japanese, and Taiwanese on March 14. White Day is a way for boys to repay for gifts from girls.

“I didn’t know how I prepare for my girlfriend for Valentine’s Day,” said Park. “Last year was my first Valentine’s Day. My girlfriend and I went out but I didn’t prepare anything, so she was little bit disappointed. I am thinking to prepare some flowers for this Valentine’s Day.”

Koreans, in particular, like to celebrate romantic dates. February 14, March 14, and April 14 all carry romantic significance: February 14 is Valentine’s Day; March 14 is White Day; and April 14 is Black Day. Koreans especially like Black Day:  people who didn’t receive any chocolate or candy on either Valentine’s Day or White Day gets together on Black Day and eat black noodles.

Chinese students also celebrate Valentine’s Day differently and have their own Valentine’s Day.

“The Valentine’s Day in China is little bit different from the U.S.,” said Na Lu, a student at Georgetown University. “Valentine’s Day is only for lovers in China. But In the U.S., Valentine’s Day gifts’ meaning is not only a loving heart but also friendship.”

China has its own version of Valentine’s Day called the “Qixi.” It is usually at the end of July or early August, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.

“Originally, there is a traditional festival for Chinese lovers, called Qixi,” said Lu. “We celebrate two Valentine’s Day in China. Especially older people celebrate Qixi more.”

Silver Fair, who studied at Northern Arizona University, said that in Italy, a couple goes out for sweet dinner and then exchange presents.

“Chocolate is not necessary for us,” Fair said. “We usually exchange presents for Valentine’s Day.”

Italians also have some old traditions. For example, there’s a myth that the first man who a girl sees on that day will become her husband. However, according to Fair, “Nobody believes this traditional myth anymore in Italy.”

People around the world have different celebrating way Valentine’s Day, but for many, it provides the opportunity to express their love and friendship, no matter the tradition and country’s culture.

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.

Students Speak: My U.S. Culture Shock

by Guest Post - Posts (71). Posted Thursday, February 5th, 2015 at 8:32 am

Rahela Culture ShockFrom food to fashion to everyday customs many take for granted, Rahela Mohammad Akbar reacts to the shock that comes from living in a different culture.

(Note: A version of this article originally appeared on the Afghan Women’s Writing Project website)

I have to say I did not know the meaning of “culture shock” before I came to the U.S, but now I do because I am truly living in a different culture. As an international student coming from a religious and conservative country like Afghanistan to a liberal and democrat country like the U.S definitely shocked my nerves and appetite for a while.

Bikinis at the Beach

At the beginning of my journey to the U.S., mostly general superficial matters grabbed my attention, such as clothing, the ways people spoke, and people’s hairstyles and fashions. For the first time, I was shocked seeing women wearing bikinis in public near the beach. I was not embarrassed watching women in their bikinis because we have women’s public bath houses in my country. But I was embarrassed looking at and talking to the men who were with them, who could and had a live view of 99 percent of women’s naked body. I also think that I might have shocked them as well because I was fully dressed up with my scarf on, walking along the beach.

Mastering Utensils

I still cannot eat rice with a fork properly. For me, eating rice with a fork is frustrating because I hate to see the grains escape from my fork when I am hungry. It is interesting how forks and knives are important in most of the meals in the U.S.; however, I only used a knife for peeling and cutting fruits in Afghanistan.

Manners and Blowing Your Nose

It is polite when sometimes Americans say, “Excuse me!” after yawning or sneezing, but what about when they blow their nose? That was the most funny (and probably most disgusting) culture shock I’ve ever had in the U.S.  In my culture it is impolite and disrespectful to blow your nose in front of others. This is not the case in the U.S. Sometimes, it made me laugh when people would blow their nose in public, and remind me of the jokes I heard from my friends when I was child.

Sun Tans & Tattoos

Skin care was another interesting culture shock. Afghans escape from the sun so to not get tanned, but some Americans love to be tanned by the bright sun, even knowing about skin cancer. Tattoos are common in the U.S., but seeing whole body tattoos was shocking to me. What if the design gets boring to them next year? Or what if a man’s wife does not like it?

An Appetite for Reading

Americans like books and enjoy reading books, magazines, newspapers, and other published articles.  We can find people reading a book during the day, at night, in the bus or waiting room in the hospital.  It was shocking for me to know we can even find books and magazines in many American bathrooms.

Pets as Valued as Humans

Pets, especially dogs, are dear in this country – sometimes dearer and closer than family members. I did not know how hard it is to take care of them, bath them, feed or even play with them! Yes, in the U.S they have vaccinations for their pets; however, we just started the vaccination process for the children in our country and almost half of the people had not ever had a vaccine in their life. This is shocking for me to know in some countries animals are valuable like humans.

Sometimes being in different cultures helps us to know the values and deficiencies of our own culture. People teach us their own living style and we teach them the way we like to live. No one has to follow the others, but the point is to appreciate human beings existence and its uniqueness.

Rahela Mohammad Akbar is a junior at Saint Michael’s College, majoring in biology. She has been in the US for five years, and is originally from Herat, Afghanistan. 

Jeonghyun Kim

Understanding the Super Bowl as a Foreign Student

by Jeonghyun Kim - Posts (11). Posted Monday, February 2nd, 2015 at 4:31 pm

Jermaine Kearse, Malcolm ButlerFeatures Sport + Entertainment reported that global viewers’ favorite sporting event in 2014 was the FIFA World Cup Final. Most international students might be familiar with the FIFA World Cup – it’s watched by billions around the world.

But another championship is capturing attention in the U.S.: the American football championship known as Super Bowl, one of hottest and most popular sporting occasions in the United States.

This year’s showdown between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks on February 1 was watched by more than 100 million viewers in the United States, and millions of others around the world. And that’s not even counting the many people who watch the Super Bowl online too.

Super Bowl TrademarkMany international students may be confused about the Super Bowl. They don’t know about the game rules – terms like quarterback, defense, and play call are unfamiliar.

“This is my first time watching the Super Bowl,” said Xiao Xi, a student at Georgetown University. “I have totally no idea about the game rules. I will try to know more about rules next time and watch the Super Bowl more seriously.”

But for international students and foreigners in general who have no prior knowledge when it comes to the Super Bowl and American football, three words can help you prepare for event (aside from the game itself): food, half-time, and commercials.


Food is a huge part of American culture, and so is food during the Super Bowl. Every year, people organize viewing parties and many go out in groups with their family and friends to eat and socialize. Foreign students may have noticed that dormitories and bars hold events like a pizza social for the Super Bowl.

“I was really excited the game because I and my friends shouted and cheered altogether,” said Gwanseok Yoo, a student at College of English Language in San Diego.

Half Time

The half-time show is one of the most Katy Perryanticipated portions of the entire event. Through the years, famous musicians have dazzled with wonderful performances. This year, it was singer Katy Perry who serenaded thousands of fans at the University of Phoenix Stadium in the state of Arizona.

“The half-time show was pretty impressive,” Yoo said.


Yoo added, “I was so surprised because of astronomical commercial rates especially. My major is advertising industry, so all Super Bowl commercial are very impressive.”

Companies also take advantage of the event and air Super Bowl commercials, spending millions of dollars to air a 30-second ad. Creative ideas surface when companies work on their ads as millions of viewers watch. One example from this year’s Super Bowl was an ad for the movie Ted 2, which used Patriots star Tom Brady himself.

“Commercials are attractive,” said Xi. “I believe that everyone is looking forward to advertising of the Super Bowl.”

The Super Bowl is not only a battle between the best NFL teams, but also a showcase of the best stars and competition for ads spots. It is really good opportunity to watch a major American event – and learn American culture for international students.

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

Photos: Sharing the International Spirit – Without Leaving the U.S.

by Jeonghyun Kim - Posts (11). 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 U.S. Housing

by Jeonghyun Kim - Posts (11). 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.

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.