Get involved with campus organizations


The Daily Illini

Students coming out to enjoy Quad Day on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016.

By Brooks Berish, Assistant supplements editor

The worries and fears of incoming freshmen are all essentially the same, regardless of if you’re from China or Brooklyn.

However, international students have to grapple with the challenge of overcoming both language and cultural barriers. Apart from the possible language difference, incoming students from the United States will also have to learn to connect with people from different backgrounds and upbringings. These seemingly complicated objectives can be achieved by joining RSOs, or registered student organizations, on campus.

There is a club for almost everything, which will become apparent on Quad Day. Every year, the Sunday before classes start, almost every organization on campus sets up a booth on the Main Quad. My strategy on Quad Day as a freshman, nearly two years ago, was to sign up for everything that even remotely interested me. You are not making any commitments when you subscribe to an email list. Once Quad Day was over, I had a lot of options to choose from. I gave almost every club I signed up for a chance, meaning that I went to at least one meeting.

I think all international students should follow this same guidance to find the right clubs and organizations for them. Joining clubs that cater almost exclusively to international students is not a bad thing, but they shouldn’t comprise your entire extracurricular schedule. Try branching out and joining organizations that have all different kinds of people in them. Even though someone may be from a different country, at least in these clubs you have an initial mutual interest.

Even in the Daily Illini, where knowing the English language is an essential part of many of the positions, we have had many international students who have fit in perfectly with the culture at the office. I worked with an international student from China who was one of the most enthusiastic workers I have met there. As I think about all of the international students in clubs that I have been able to meet, I realize many of the friendships were built upon this mutual curiosity about each other’s backgrounds and place of origin.

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    In addition to meeting people in these clubs, they have other important purposes too. For one, clubs can serve as a social outlet and break from the average academically rigorous school day. After a long stretch of classes, it can be a nice change of pace to shift your focus to different things. Sports are universal, so anybody can play them. There is a club for almost every sport possible (or impossible, e.g. quidditch) on campus.

    Academic organizations can help further one’s scholastic achievements and can help students discern what kinds of careers suit them best. These kinds of organizations look good on resumes and taking on leadership positions in them has become the expectation from employers these days.

    Becoming a part of the organizations and groups on campus here at the University of Illinois has been crucial in helping me integrate into daily life on campus. I can’t stress the importance of getting involved enough. Much of the education you receive at school is gained outside the classroom, so be sure to take advantage of the opportunities that are afforded to you at this University.

    Brooks in a junior in Business. 
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