As many international students face a lengthy process when coming to the UA, International Student Services is focused on creating an easier transition.
The International Student Services staff continually guides new students through their transition, from before they come to the U.S. until they graduate from the University of Arizona, according to Noelle Sallaz, the International Student Services adviser and program coordinator.
Orientation provides essential information for students regarding schedules, advising, housing, financial costs, health insurance and legal services through a part of orientation called “Succeeding at UA,” Sallaz added.
“The main goal is to transition students comfortably,” Sallaz said.
Sallaz works with fellow orientation coordinator Len Tecson to prepare for spring semester orientation, which takes about two to three months to plan. “The ISS helps students from more than 100 different countries transition to the university,” Sallaz said.
The orientation, which took place in the first few days of January, consisted of 280 international students.
“Don’t be scared and have faith in yourself,” said Chirag Agarwal, an electrical and chemical engineering sophomore and volunteer for ISS orientation.
This is the advice he gives to incoming freshman, along with his story about the daunting process of becoming an American resident and student.
Each international student must complete the UA application, visa application and I-20 application. Though the process for each student requires the same documentation, each experience varies depending on the person.
“First I had to take two years of English classes in Texas, and now I am a freshman here,” said Abdulaziz, a mechanical engineering freshman from Saudi Arabia. “I was planning on attending the University of Texas but Tucson has a lower cost of living and people that I know.”
Some students experienced multiple rejections for a visa and long waiting periods while others were able to attain the visa the day after application.
“It took about six months to receive a visa,” said Mohammad Al-Bader, an entrepreneurship freshman. “It was really tough for me because I was put under administered processing in the American Embassy. But I am looking forward to receiving a high quality education.”
Despite difficulties, students are excited at the prospect of attending the UA.
“I am sure I am the first person from my country to attend the University of Arizona,” said Sidy Traore, a geography freshman from Burkina Faso. “I came to the University of Arizona because it was my destiny.”