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Though criticized by some for a lack of diversity within it’s student body, CU has a thriving international population.
According to data from the International Student and Scholars Services, as of Fall 2009, there are a total of 1,248 international students at CU from 86 countries, with most coming from India, China, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.
A great place for CU students and international students to get acquainted with each other is International Coffee Hour, sponsored by the Office of International Education and hosted every Friday from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. outside Baby Doe’s in the UMC.
Rebecca Sibley, an international student advisor who helps run the coffee hour, said it has been taking place for four years and continues to grow each year. This year, the event typically draws about 180 people per week.
Sibley said she feels the coffee hour is great for both international and CU students to have a social activity together and get to know each other.
“I think it gives people a place to come weekly, so they can meet friends here,” she said. “It is also a pretty cool way for many people to get language practice.”
There are 657 internatinal scholars from 62 countries who are post-doctorate, research students and faculty members. Most of them hail from China, Korea, Germany and India.
Kyle Smith, a 22-year-old ITS staff member who helps out at coffee hour, said it helped him build a social life at CU.
“One of my friends invited me to come sophomore year,” Smith said. “I really didn’t have much of an interest in international cultures or anything, but I ended up meeting a lot of friends through coffee hour.”
Smith said that he thinks International Coffee Hour helps students meet people.
“International Coffee Hour is great for international students because everyone at International Coffee Hour is interested in meeting international students,” he said. “But also it’s great for American students because you can meet all sorts of different people.”
In addition to International Coffee Hour, Sibley said that there is also Wednesdays at Somewhere, which is where international students are invited out to dinner at a different restaurant each week.
The Office of International Students also partners with a group called Boulder Friends of International Students, which helps international students adjust by having local families host them for dinner or Thanksgiving. The program has been ongoing for 50 years.
The international students that the CUI talked to said that they have had good experiences here in Boulder.
Oscar Henriksson, a 22-year-old first-year graduate student in the physics department, is originally from Finland but is an exchange student from Uppsala University in Sweden. He said his experience has been positive so far.
“It’s a beautiful city, beautiful school, beautiful campus and really nice people,” Henriksson said.
He said he chose Boulder out of the plethora of American universities both for education and location.
“[Uppsala University] had an exchange program with lots of universities in the U.S., and I chose Boulder because it’s good in physics and is a beautiful place,” he said.
Geraint Harker, a post-doc researcher in the astronomy department from the UK, said he has also enjoyed his time here.
“[Boulder] is less rainy, you pay less tax and it’s a lot friendlier,” Harker said.
Though they only consist of 4 percent of the student population, some international students here said they have been able to find and make friends with each other.
“I hang out with some Americans, but mostly other exchange students,” Henriksson said.
Other students said they agree with Henriksson.
“Half of my friends are American, and the other half are international students,” said Sadra Azimi, a 21-year-old senior and MCD biology major from Iran.
One main difference the students seemed to agree upon was that the workload in other countries was less than here at CU.
“I would say homework is one of the biggest [differences] because we don’t have anywhere close to the amount of homework you guys have,” Henriksson said. “We have much more independent study. They expect us to study on our own without giving us homework.”
Azimi said he agrees with Henriksson.
“There is a lot more homework here, which I wasn’t used to,” he said.
This story was inspired by Resolving Door, a site where CU students ask questions and get answers.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Isa Jones at Alexandra.firstname.lastname@example.org.