Dear prospective international students

First of all, congratulations! Congratulations in advance for being a part of the Newhouse and Syracuse University community!

This is a letter for you from me being an international student nearly a year in Syracuse. Even though I’m coming to an end to my time at Syracuse, I still have one more semester to complete in Washington D.C.

I’m not sure if you have completed your bachelor’s in your home country, in the U.S. or in any other country. In my case, I came here after working for four years and did my undergraduate in the country where I’m from. Regardless of our background and situation, here are some lessons I have learned that I will share with you:

Make the whole experience worth it

Moving to a different country and perhaps sacrificing some things and investing thousands of dollars are not easy decisions. I totally understand.

Make it worth it. Attend the classes, engage in class, ask questions, use professors’ office hours, build relationships with your classmates and be yourself. Also, some days you may not feel good and wouldn’t feel like coming to class. It’s okay to take a break.

There are always numerous events happening; take advantage of them. Join student organizations, go to those events, hang out with classmates, make new friends and, most importantly, make the best of it and seize the opportunities to the fullest. What can I say? Take advantage of the tuition you paid!

Speak up

In my country, I wouldn’t dare to speak with my dean of school and share some issues. They wouldn’t bother to listen, honestly.

But here, when you’re dissatisfied with something especially that has to do with academic quality, speak with your professors directly. Their doors are always open, which I’m thankful for.

If you happen to face problems as an international student, don’t hesitate to talk to the dean, academic affairs, Center for International Services, Barnes Center or professors. As they’re striving for improvement, they would be happy to talk to you and hear your concerns.

Don’t let the fact that you’re an international student be the excuse for not speaking up.

Explore the campus and city more

I haven’t seen many university campuses before but ours is beautiful and you may agree with me. When you have time, explore the campus and enter every academic building. Take tons of pictures on campus, or with Otto. Study outside, eat outside and play outside.

There are many decent restaurants downtown worth trying. There are Asian restaurants and markets as well. Get to know about the city a bit more in case someone asks about Syracuse.

Don’t worry; you will get this degree!

It’s an overwhelming experience. Each class, you will be given some amount of readings, assignments, team projects and more. You want to have fun but, at the same time, you don’t want to fail. Being an international student makes it even harder. Reading takes a lot of time for me.

As long as you manage your time well, make an effort and be engaged, you can still party hard and study hard and get your degree.

Overall, make this period of time meaningful and worthwhile. Sometimes I forget I’m an international student here because everyone is treated equally and respectfully. Good luck, make it happen, get that degree and go make a difference.

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Oko Khosbayar

Ichinkhorloo Khosbayar is a graduate student in the public diplomacy and global communications program at the Newhouse and Maxwell schools.