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TMCC Hosts Orientation for Students from Around the World

international students attend orientation in classroom
Rebecca A. Eckland

Every year, TMCC hosts students from around the world to its campus to begin their journey in higher education. These students come from diverse backgrounds and countries: TMCC has hosted students from Japan, Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Russia, to name a few examples. 

This year is no different, with TMCC welcoming two dozen students to the Reno/Sparks community. “We are so excited to welcome all of our new international students this fall,” said Executive Director of Advising and Access Services Dr. Natalie Brown. “We have admitted students from 11 countries around the world and are continually striving to ensure their safety and well-being... from adjusting the format of our orientation as the need arises and being as flexible as possible to provide alternative formats for the content where we can.”

While the TMCC International Student Services Office has always given international students a warm and informative welcome, this year they have created a new orientation program with the main event which happened on Aug. 19 at the Dandini Campus. The program was met with open arms from the community of students from around the world who will call TMCC home for the 2021-2022 academic year. 

“There will be a lot of welcome activities,” said Virag Nikolics, International Student Advisor. “The event is about conveying important information, but it’s also about providing them with a warm welcome and plenty of opportunities for the students to connect with each other.”

Hinata Sato, an international student from Japan, has taken online classes for her first year in college. This semester, she’s starting the second year of her academic journey at TMCC. “Last year, I was very upset since I couldn’t take in-person classes or experience campus life. Last month, I finally arrived in Reno and I decided to go to TMCC since all the classes are small and I would be able to communicate easily with instructors. Also, because California is a famous place to study abroad for international students, I wanted to experience something different,” she said.

This year, Sato is one of 24 international students who will call TMCC home and will be welcomed at an in-person orientation session which will provide them with an overview of expectations and resources. This is one of the largest groups of international students TMCC has hosted, an impressive fact given the ongoing pandemic. 

In addition to getting to know one another, the orientation also includes an overview of campus safety by University Police Services, the importance of caring for your mental health by a TMCC Counselor, as well as information on academic honesty, class schedules, and resources available through supports like the Disability Resource Center (DRC) and the Career Hub. 

“We want to set these students up for success,” said Nikolics. “But, we also really want them to own this experience, and to become more independent… to realize that yes, they can make decisions and yes, they can reach their goals.”

The Five-Part Workshop Series: An Extended Orientation 

After the Aug. 19 Welcome Orientation, international students will attend a 5-part series of workshops held throughout the Fall Semester to ensure that they are remaining focused on their educational goals while getting the most out of their time at TMCC. These workshops focus on topics pertinent to student success. 

  1. Understanding the American Classroom and Cultural Adjustment. In addition to adjusting to a new time zone and a new class schedule, the first workshop in the five workshop series focuses on cultural adjustment. According to Nikolics, the workshop not only provides useful insights into what students can expect as a student at TMCC, but also offers international students the opportunity to make connections with one another. “Even though these students share the experience of coming from another country, they may all have different majors. These workshops provide students with the opportunity to get to know one another,” she said. The workshop also invites members of the International Faculty Committee to share their personal experiences with cultural adjustment with the students. “That really helps our students to connect with our faculty, and to begin forming those important relationships,” Nikolics said. 
  2. Academic Dishonesty in the American Education System. As International Academic Advisor Sione Lavaka explains during this workshop, plagiarism isn’t defined exactly the same way in different parts of the world. “Many international students believe that as long as they cite the work that they are fulfilling their obligation for academic honesty even when paraphrasing an author’s ideas,” he said. This workshop outlines and explains these important nuances to students while encouraging them to ask their professors if they have questions about how to cite a source. The workshop also introduces students to free on-campus resources like the Tutoring and Learning Center (TLC), which can also provide guidance.
  3. Employment Options for International Students. While many TMCC students hold down full or part-time jobs while pursuing a certificate or degree, international students face challenges that domestic students don’t when it comes to employment. In this workshop, TMCC’s Career Hub offers advice to international students when it comes to their options for finding employment. This often begins with documentation: what does a resume or CV look like in the United States? Chances are, what information to include—and how to format these documents—varies slightly from country to country. The workshop also includes a mock interview. “The students really love this workshop for all the practical advice and real-life examples it offers,” said Nikolics.
  4. International Student L.E.A.P. (Learn, Explore and Plan) University Transfer Session. International students who are interested in continuing their educational journey at another institution have a more complicated process in front of them than domestic transfer students. “Not all institutions accept international students,” Lavaka said, and in this workshop, he outlines what students need to consider when planning their education beyond TMCC. “We also review what resources are available for international students at other institutions: do they have a dedicated space like the DISCO at TMCC? Do they have an international advisor? That kind of information can be really useful for students to know.” 
  5. International Student On Track to Graduate and Registration. In addition to introducing international students to a new culture, the TMCC International Advising team also makes sure that these students stay “on track” with their educational goals. In this workshop, academic advisors work directly with individual students to create and review a two-year educational plan. “We look at course sequencing, when classes are offered and how they fit into a student’s overall plan,” Lavaka said. “Each individual international student has a specific two-year program that we try to follow as closely as possible to ensure they graduate,” said Lavaka. This workshop ensures they are on the road to do exactly that.

For more information about International Student Services at TMCC, contact their office at 775-337-5605.