International students struggle to get classes

In Campus News, News
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Bastian Hvitmyhr (left) and Mari Five (right) are international students from Norway studying journalism at CSUF. (Gretchen Davey / Daily Titan)

The transition to and from other schools involves a lot of time and effort, but Cal State Fullerton works to offer all the help it can give.

The International Students and Scholars (ISS) office strives to provide as much information and assistance to international and exchange students as possible, but also current CSUF students.

Attending a school with around 38,000 students enrolled each semester is new for students who haven’t dealt with such a mass amount. Although the process is difficult for the first few weeks, preparation is key and CSUF provides as much support to students who are stepping into a whole other lifestyle than what they may be accustomed to.

In the fall 2015 semester at CSUF, a grand total of 38,414 students were enrolled and 2,410 international students accounted for the large enrollment number.

Mari Five and Bastian Hvitmyhr are studying journalism abroad at CSUF for their first fall 2016 semester. What started out as a rocky start soon turned into a smooth ride.

The high number of students attending the university creates a struggle to add necessary classes. In Norway, classes are pre-selected for them, making the process much simpler.

“It’s really easy. We just sign up for a major and they do pretty much everything for you. You don’t have to apply for courses. It’s just set up… That’s why the adjustment was so hard, because the differences are so huge,” Five said.

In addition to overpopulation, the two international students also have to make sure classes coincide with their university in Norway.

“I was just preparing myself to do the courses that I applied for, and when I didn’t get them, it was a surprise and shock,” Five said.

Hvitmyhr has a J-1 Visa, which allows him to participate in study based exchange visitor programs. Due to his visa, he was not required to pay direct tuition but didn’t receive any of the classes he originally pre-enrolled in.

“Everyone at the international office had helped us, but there should be a system to make sure that we have all the classes before we arrive,” Hvitmyhr said.

One of the main problems that arose from the situation was having classes approved for credit from their university in Norway on a deadline.

A way to solve that issue is to find courses online and sit through various ones to see which best fits to their specific academic needs, also called “crashing courses,” Five said.

“…It’s coming to a space and place where everything you have known your entire life is different and you have been kind of thrown into it with no kind of support system and that’s also what ISS does. said Maria E. Grandone, Ph.D., the director for International and Intercultural Programs at Cal State Fullerton. “We become the support system for the student body.”

After “crashing courses,” and working with the faculty, Five and Hvitmyhr are now in the flow of a semester at CSUF with the ideal amount of courses and enjoying their time here.

“I’m here in California and I’ve never been here. I just want to experience as much as possible,” Five said.

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