International Students - Handbook
I. INTRODUCTION TO MEREDITH COLLEGE
Meredith, a liberal arts college for women located in Raleigh, North Carolina, welcomes international students. The College believes that the total academic community profits from having different ideas, experiences, and cultures represented on campus. It also believes that the strong academic program and the congenial atmosphere of the Meredith community provide an excellent educational experience for the international student wishing to study in the United States. The cultural exchange that occurs at Meredith promotes understanding, cooperation and friendship among the peoples of the world.
Meredith College is located on a large campus with gentle hills, wooded areas, and a small lake just inside Raleigh, a city of approximately 223,200. Seven residence halls and a large dining hall provide excellent living and dining accommodations; and academic needs are well served by nine classroom buildings, a spacious, modern library, and a computer/study area. Health, administrative, social facilities, and a chapel are also located on campus. The buildings are centrally located on the campus grounds, an arrangement that provides the convenience of getting quickly to classes, meals, and residence halls.
Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina, is an educational and cultural center as well as a political hub. The city is the home of six colleges and universities, including Meredith College, North Carolina State University, Shaw University, St. Augustine’s College, Peace College and Wake Technical Community College. This concentration of educational institutions brings to the Raleigh area over 70,000 students, which includes a large international student population. Meredith usually has approximately 65-70 students of foreign origin enrolled annually.
Meredith students enjoy an active campus life that emphasizes one's responsibilities in the college community and personal development. A strong system of student government based on an honor system demands that mature students be willing to accept the responsibility for their own actions. Opportunities for leadership abound in the many clubs, organizations and college committees.
Student activities at Meredith range from sports activities to concerts and lectures, formal receptions to picnics by the lake, club meetings to quiet moments alone on the spacious campus. Meredith Performs, a program of theater and dance, three student publications, music and choral groups, student organizations, honor societies, and religious and recreational activities attract a student body of diverse interests.
Recreational facilities on campus include a gymnasium, fitness center, indoor swimming pool, dance studio, tennis courts, and putting green. Students have access to golf, equestrian and racquetball programs off campus.
An important part of life at Meredith is the religious heritage it enjoys. Founded in 1891 by North Carolina Baptists, the College believes in the value of a Christian education, while respecting the individual beliefs of constituents. Regularly scheduled convocations, chapel services and special events such as Religious Emphasis Week are among the activities through which the Christian perspective of the College can be clearly seen. Students may also express their concern for others through the Meredith Volunteer program, which places students in community activity and service.
You will find information on all student activities, organizations, and events in your 2005-2006 Student Handbook & Activities Calendar. Refer to this handbook often to find out what is happening at Meredith.
International Student Advisor
The International Student Advisor at Meredith is Kevin Morrison. He is also the Associate Director of Study Abroad. He can provide information about visa requirements, F-1 benefits, and immigration regulations. His office is located in Joyner 122. He manages the following activities:
- Orientation of new international students
- General questions on immigration regulations and maintaining your F-1 status
- Employment benefit information
- Social Security card information
- A directory of F-1 international students with names, addresses, telephone numbers, and home countries.
The Office of Commuter Life and Diversity Programs
The mission of the Office of Commuter Life and Diversity Programs is to develop and maintain supportive programs and events for the development and advancement of commuter students and diverse populations.
This office provides a comprehensive program of social, cultural, intellectual, and leadership programs on campus to bring awareness, support and understanding of differences.
Meredith International Association (MIA)
The Meredith International Association (MIA) shares knowledge and understanding of different cultures within the Meredith community, promotes interest in other cultures, and explores cultural values and social and political issues through interaction with other students on campus, faculty, administration, and community groups.
To facilitate this, the members of the Association meet twice a month in the Diversity Conference Room by the Beehive in the Cate Center.
During Meredith International Association Week, they prepare and serve an international luncheon for the Meredith faculty and staff, sponsor a food fair, and exhibit arts, crafts, and jewelry.
Association for Cultural Awareness (ACA)
The Association for Cultural Awareness (ACA) exists at Meredith for the benefit of all students of color and anyone who wishes to promote diversity.
The association is designed to promote the interest of all students of color, enhance the academic and social lives of students, advocate for the interests and concerns of students of color, and to promote multiculturalism.
The association is involved in a variety of activities during the school year. Some of these activities include the ACA Blastoff, and Black Emphasis Month, just to name a few. Membership and participation within the association is open to anyone in the Meredith community.
Housing Options During Meredith College Breaks and Holidays
The Meredith College campus will be closed during the Winter break between semesters. No students will be allowed to remain on campus during that holidays. If you need suggestions on other housing options during this time, please see Kevin Morrison for further information.
The Meredith Culture
Cultures are different all over the world. Many things influence culture--climate, history, religion, and tradition--to name a few. An important part of your education at Meredith includes learning about the United States and its culture. And as an international student in a foreign culture, you will want to learn American culture, as well as sharing your culture with your new Meredith friends.
Cultural differences are in every phase of life including the following:
- living conditions
- personal hygiene
If you are living on campus you will have a "taste" of traditional American food in Meredith's Dining Hall, and you will get accustomed to the typical college student's living environment in the residence hall. Although many international students choose to wear the traditional clothing of their country, they have no trouble identifying the styles chosen by most Meredith students. If you have traditional dress from your home country, do bring it.
We know some customs may be new to you, but if you have any questions, or if you would like to have someone go shopping with you to purchase any necessary items, please let someone know. The Residence Life Office is happy to assist, as well as your Residence Assistant (RA) or Residence Director (RD), if you live on campus or the Office of Commuter Life and Diversity Programs if you reside off campus.
Dealing With Cultural Adjustment (Four Stages)
1. The Honeymoon Stage
The honeymoon stage is characterized by the following feelings:
You are fascinated with everything that is new. You are embarking on your “dream come true”, study in the United States. You may feel eager to please the people around you.
You display a spirit of cooperation, and show an active interest in others. Because you want to please others, you may nod or smile to indicate understanding when in fact you have not understood. When the misunderstandings mount up, you move into the second stage of cultural adjustment, the hostility stage.
2. The Hostility Stage
The second stage of cultural adjustment is characterized by feelings of:
You may feel frustrated by University bureaucracy and weary of speaking and listening in English daily. It can be upsetting to realize that, although you have studied English, you don’t seem to understand anyone. Sleep patterns may be disrupted.
You may suffer from indigestion and be unable to eat. You might react to your frustration by rejecting your new environment.
The internal reasoning might be, “if I feel bad, it is because of them”. At this point it is likely that you will display some hostility towards American culture. Some of this hostility is translated into fits of anger over minor frustrations, excessive fear and mistrust of Americans, frequent absenteeism, lack of interest, lack of motivation, and, at worst, complete withdrawal. Many academic problems begin during this stage.
Tips for coping with the “Hostility Stage”
- Talk to someone from your home country. It can be very helpful to discuss your concerns with someone who shares your cultural perspective.
- Meet Americans. A sympathetic American can provide you with insight on cultural norms and standards in the United States.
- Join a club or organization like MIA or ACA. This is an excellent way to meet people who share similar interests.
- Put things into perspective. It is common for people to experience culture shock when living in a new country. The vast majority of people go on to not only have a successful experience, but to truly enjoy their stay in the United States.
- Try to find the positive aspects of your stay here.
3. The Humor Stage
The third stage follows when you begin to feel relaxed in new situations and begin to laugh at misunderstandings and minor mistakes that would have caused major headaches during the hostility stage. You will have made some friends and you are able to manage the size and complexity of the college.
4. The Home Stage
The final stage occurs when you not only retain allegiance to your home culture, but also “feel at home” in the United States. You have successfully adjusted to the norms and standards of Meredith College and this country. You should be commended for the ability to live successfully in two cultures!