Why Binghamton Is a Truly International University

Posted by Junior Patricia Nieberg on December 12, 2016

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My International Experience 

Meet the author

Hi everyone, I’m Patty and I'm a student at Binghamton. I'm also an intern in the University's communications office.

Being in touch with different cultures is important to me, so I set out on this project to explores some of the lives of international students at Binghamton. Each has their own story and I’d like to share them with you.


Why did I choose this project?

After participating in Binghamton University's Spain Language and Culture program, I couldn't get enough. Six weeks of churros, sangria, salsa dancing, sightseeing and, most importantly, cultural immersion. These six weeks gave me a better view of the world. As I said before, learning about other cultures is something I value, so I felt that I should learn more about those here at Binghamton. 

Follow me on my journey through our universal university.

Some Interesting Stats

Where are our international students from?

This data was collected from the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment and is based on enrollment from Fall 2011 to Fall 2015.

Top 5 countries represented

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Numbers are shown in order of population size.

Others May Surprise You

Ethiopia, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Honduras, Trinidad, Netherlands, Romania, Jordan, Yemen, New Zealand.

And that's just to name a few!

Meet some special people

"I [came] to do film, something I really want to do. It's more of a focus on [my] future career." 

Eri representing Japan and winning "Ms. Social Media," hosted by the Binghamton Vietnamese Student Association (VSA). 

Meet: Eri Abe

Degree: B.A. in Cinema, minor in Anthropology

Home: Sendai, Japan

As a transfer student from Japan and then Seattle, Wash., Eri decided to get involved on campus right away. She is currently involved in the International Language Association (ILA), various Asian organizations, and is on the e-board of Binghamton University Japanese Association (BUJA), as the cultural chair.

Top left: Eri at the Omatsuri festival hosted by BUJA. event. Top right: Tabling for HKES at University Fest. Bottom: Binghamton's PAL 2016 banquet.

As a student in Seattle, Eri completed core requirements. Here at Binghamton, she has finally started her degree in cinema, which she says is nervewracking. A degree in cinema and anthropology is a unique combination and almost hard to find, however, at Binghamton Eri gets the best of both worlds.

In the future, Eri hopes to travel and make documentaries, combining her two passions of cinema and anthropology.

"It's my big dream," she said.

“I came here to grow. Part of you growing is because you stretch your world.” 

Meet: Lubna Abdul-Hadi

Degree: PhD in translation studies

Home: Irbid, Jordan

Binghamton is one of three universities in the United States to offer a doctoral program in translation studies. Lubna is proficient in English, Arabic and is currently studying French. After completing her master’s degree in applied linguistics, she came to Binghamton to earn her PhD in translations.

"I really don't imagine myself in another place [other] than Binghamton," said Lubna.

Since her arrival, Lubna has learned how to do things on her own. She also stresses the importance of balance between her education, meeting new people, discovering the city of Binghamton and getting involved.

Lubna assisting Linda of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) at the Study Abroad Fair.

"I try to follow the events happening around Binghamton," she said. "There's so much going on, from musical events, First Friday. . . The more I know about Binghamton, the more I like it." 

“I’m young. I have time to learn a new language, a new culture. The competition is really strong."

Meet: Xian Wu

Degree: Master’s in Engineering

Home: Harbin, China

For Xian, his decision to come to Binghamton is practical. After receiving his bachelor’s, he could have gotten a job, but he looks at it differently. With a master’s degree from an esteemed American university, Xian says this will give him an edge when applying for jobs. Xian’s specialty is cyber-security and hopes to get a job in that field one day.

Since being here, Xian has been involved in Outdoors Club, International Language Association, and ISSS events.

Xian has also made friends who are also international students from China whom he considers family. He finds their support in everyday things, like eating dinner together, or asking them for advice on school-related decisions.

"The luckiest thing is [that I have] a family in Binghamton. They talk with me and help me to make decisions," he said.

With family, school and extracurricular activities, Xian's immersion into American culture has lead to his ultimate goal.

"Binghamton is just like my home," he said. "I belong here."

Top: Xian participating in Ernst & Young's tech case 2016. Bottom: Xian presenting for ISSS orientation.

“Don’t be afraid to speak out.”

Meet: Yuanqing (Paige) Chen

Area of study: B.A. in Economics (concentration in financial economics) and minor in Geography 

Home: Xiamen, China

Paige is involved on campus and in the community as secretary of the International Language Association (ILA), member of the Taiwanese Student Association (TSA), and through the Broome County Promise Zone

Paige said her mother used to have to push her in school but now she's very focused and likes what she's doing. 

"I feel like time management is really important for college students in general," said Paige. 

She keeps track of her studies and also makes sure to join clubs and activities for a social aspect, even as an international student.

Paige and the rest of Binghamton University's Chinese Students and Scholar Association (CSSA).

"International students are a big part of Binghamton University," she said. "We have a lot of events for international students to help you build a resume, or even help you get involved on campus."

“After I start getting involved in other stuff, I started to know more people. I don’t feel like I’m the only one.”

Top: Javier's soccer team at Fulton Montgomery Community College in Johnstown, N.Y. Bottom: Javier and his parents at Binghamton University.

Meet: Javier Suarez

Area of study: B.A. in Studio Art (concentration in graphic design)

Home: Mexico City, Mexico

Javier originally came to the U.S. for his passion for soccer and transferred to Binghamton for the division 1 team. However Javier stopped playing, joined other groups, and found new interests and new friends.

"Get involved in clubs. That's what they told me; that's what I did," he said. "When I came here I just knew one girl, and then after I started getting involved, I met more people."

Top left: ???? Top right: Pre- Quimbamba performance for the LASU 2016 Fall banquet: Pasiones Ocultas. Bottom: Rehearsal for the banquet.

Javier found a community that reminded him of home and joined Quimbamba (a Latin American dance group) and the Latin American Student Union (LASU).

"There's a big Latino presence," said Javier.

Despite missing home, he found cultural groups such as these, where he connected to students with common backgrounds and interests.

"We [international students] are all in the same boat."

Daniel (second from the right) and other members of Binghamton University's crew team.

Meet: Daniel Green

Area of study: B.A. in Philosophy

Home: Nottingham, United Kingdom 

Daniel is studying abroad in Binghamton from University at Lancaster. At first, he was nervous to feel isolated; But since coming in August, Daniel has made friends thanks to joining the crew team, living in a residence hall and the welcoming atmosphere.

"It feels friendly and open," he said. "We don't have RA's back home, so it feels like there's more of an effort to get people to know each other, which is nice."

Daniel (left) and friends on Halloween.

Daniel has made friends from Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, Korea and more. With other international friends, he said they can relate to each other while being here.

"My favorite thing about American culture is the diversity. I like how you [Americans] handle all of the cultural differences."

Meet: Juliy Gadjiev

Area of study: B.A. in Economics

Home: Leipzig, Germany

Juliy came to Binghamton for a study abroad program after being recommended by his advisor at Lepzig University. Confident in her suggestion, he came to Binghamton with an open mindset to immerse himself in American culture.

Shortly into his program, he was surprised to find such a friendly atmosphere.

"The whole community at Binghamton helped me a lot to get through those first difficult moments," he said.

Juliy found housemates that offered him a winter blanket and shoes. He also was welcomed by one of the University's german professors, who invited him to dinner and to speak to her class about his own university. 

Juliy and a group of international students took a weekend trip to Niagra Falls.

Juliy has also found comfort in his group of international friends. From weekend getaways to casual hangouts, they all come together in their new home, Binghamton University.

What else did they have to say?

Some other bits of advice from these students:

1. "Bring a jacket!" -- Eri Abe


2. "Bring more money than you calculated. And don't let [expenses] hold you back." -- Juliy Gadjiev


3. "It's okay to be scared; everyone is. Have confidence in your ability and get out of your comfort zone." -- Lubna Abdul-Hadi


4. "Don't do work right before the deadline. Don't study right before the exam." -- Yuanqing Chen


5. "Have a clear goal in mind." -- Xian Wu


6. "Look for international scholarships." -- Javier Suarez


7. "Get to know the local people." -- Daniel Green


Seeing it from the students' side

Leaving their homes, family and friends can be hard for international students. These students tend to have the following kinds of problems in common:

1. Language barriers

2. Culture shock

3. Homesickness

4. Workload

5. Anxiety about making friends

How does Binghamton address these issues

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International Student Scholar Services (ISSS)

ISSS provides assistance to current, prospective or alumni international students. With orientations, events, internship opportunities and even advice, ISSS is our biggest supporter of our international students. Once enrolled here at Binghamton, they are the go-to for anything these students need.  

Who assists international students?

Linda (third from the right) and some of the international students.

Linda Torricelli: International Student and Scholar Programming Coordinator

Linda organizes orientations, welcome events, immersion programs and more. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economic analysis and a master’s degree in race, ethnicity and place from Binghamton University. She also took a gap year and taught English in Taiwan. Her passion for students, domestic and international, grows more with each event she hosts.

Linda and her students in Taiwan on a field trip to the Taipei Zoo.

What does Linda have to say about the internatonal students? Check out a segment of our interview in the video below!

For one-on-one help, the University offers Together: International Student Support Group

“This program is more like an open conversation. I emphasize sharing,” said Kim Sangmoon, director of the support group.

Here, Sangmoon and international students come together to talk about problems or conflicts they have day to day. Whether it’s homework, studying, language barriers or even making friends, the conversation is open to any topic. Weekly attendance isn’t mandatory, but suggested.

As an international student himself, Sangmoon facilitates the meetings, but also gives advice to students from his experiences.

“I hope that students begin to recognize they're not the only ones going through or feeling that way. That’s how I believe we can form a sense of community and a sense of belonging.”

In closing, some things to think about

Thank you for joining me and learning about our international students. 

After reading this, I hope it inspired you to branch out a little bit. Sometimes we get too comfortable in our own bubble, but you really can learn a lot by opening up your circle.

I've heard friends and other students become frustrated by language barriers or international students who tend to be cliquey. Instead, I encourage you to take a step back.

Be patient and put yourself in their shoes. 

These students have made the effort to immerse themselves in our culture, so the least we can do is be welcoming and open to learning about them as well. 

In the words of Xian Wu,

"Everyone is a bearcat!" 

Patty Nieberg is a junior from Brooklyn, N.Y., majoring in English rhetoric with a minor in Spanish and global studies. She is also taking part in Binghamton's Semester in London program this spring. For questions about her study abroad experience, email pnieber1@binghamton.edu. For updates on her journey through London, follow her on Instagram at @PattyNieberg.

Have questions, comments or concerns about the blog? Email us at social@binghamton.edu.