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Top 10 Conversation-Starting Questions Every International Student Should Know

When international students come together as a class for the first time, it can be a pretty daunting and challenging experience. It’s only natural to wonder about how to connect with their new classmates. In such a diverse room, with students coming together from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, what does one do to strike up a conversation? That is the central question of today’s blog. 

 
Here are ten of the top conversation-starting questions that will get international students talking, sharing, and connecting with one another. 

Question 1: Your accent is interesting, where are you from? 

In a room of international students, asking where the other is from is a great way to begin any conversation, especially the first encounter with another student.  

Our countries of origin become a perfect conversation-starting point and help us begin to understand and appreciate how far we’ve all come to be together in this place of learning. 

Question 2: Can you tell me about yourself? 

It’s a basic starter question, but it’s solid and invites the other speaker to share information about themselves that will help you understand them and, more importantly, find areas that you have in common with that person. The other great thing about this question is that it’s open and easygoing. It doesn’t demand any specific information and allows your classmate the space to choose what they share and what they don’t. 

Question 3: Have you experienced any difficulties in America so far? 

This isn’t a question designed to get people badmouthing America, but rather to establish some shared experience between students of different cultures and nationalities. It gets them focused on common ground. It could be that both you and your classmate experienced some trouble at the airport with the TSA or that you had a taxi driver who wouldn’t stop chattering, or you might have both gotten lost on campus. 

Whatever your experiences so far, it’s these challenging ones that often bring people together the most. When you find others who’ve experienced the same difficulties, it’s easier to laugh about them and not let them bother you so much. 

Question 4: What do you do in your free time? 

You and a classmate might come from totally different corners of the world. Still, you can easily be brought together by your shared love of something like cooking, chess, video games, reading, poetry, creative writing, or something else. Hobbies are an incredible kind of “social glue” that holds people together regardless of their surface differences. 

Once again, this question is also nice and open. It doesn’t demand specifics such as “Do you play chess?” You have a far better chance of finding connections when you keep things as open and easygoing as possible. 

Question 5: What brought you to this school? 

It’s interesting to find out what brought you and another person from a different country to this particular school. It could be that both of you share the same ambitions or found the same thing about the school attractive and appealing. It’s yet another perfect way to discover common ground and common interests with your classmates. Furthermore, it helps build a sense of camaraderie in the classroom as we learn that we are all in it together to achieve our goals. 

Question 6: Are you enjoying the food here? 

Cuisine is another great uniting force between different cultures. It might be that you are both loving the food here, or perhaps you find it lacking. In either case, you can once again discover a common thread between you that unites you despite the difference in nationality and/or culture. It’s also a terrific pretext to find chances to get together to have lunch where one can recommend a good place to eat where the other has been struggling to find somewhere they enjoy. 

Question 7: Do you have any suggestions for fun places in this town? 

This question is a terrific way to benefit from other people’s experiences. While it might be your first time in a classroom together, it doesn’t mean you’ve all just arrived in the country. If you are new in town, you can learn from others about great places to hang out and enjoy a social life. You might also share your experiences with others. 

 
Question 8: If you weren’t here studying now, where would you be? 

This is a somewhat more roundabout way of asking what people they like to do in their free time, such as hobbies and pastimes. The difference is that this way of asking the question is a little more creative and thought-provoking. When you ask the question in this way, it gets the other person really thinking about their answer and more engaged with the question because it perhaps sounds a little less hum-drum than the common question of “what do you do in your free time?” 

Question 9: What are your plans for when you graduate? 

You and your classmates will invariably have big plans for the future. That’s why you’re here studying. Ambition and desires for the future are another great set of uniting forces that bring people of different languages and cultures together. But, in the end, most people want to live their lives and be happy. It doesn’t change much from nation to nation, and it becomes a powerful friendship builder. 

Question 10: Do you want to grab some lunch? 

Finally, we come to the last and most powerful question of all. Everyone needs to eat, and lunch between classes is an easy way to bond with your fellow learners. These bonds are easy enough to form, just so long as someone is willing to ask the question! 

Conclusion: Speak Up and Connect Faster 

If there’s one thing that makes the international student experience all the more enjoyable, it’s the ability to form lasting connections and friendships with your classmates. It’s a formative and life-changing experience to live as an international student and made all the more valuable by the people you spend your time with. 

You may notice many of the questions above are designed to help students find the many things they likely have in common. There’s no focus on differences but rather trying to find common ground on which international students can build their friendships. 

Remember to speak up and break that ice because it could be the start of something really fantastic. 

At CSI, our students enjoy the connections they make and create lifelong friends. If you’re looking for a place with friendly students, faculty, and staff, we’re just a phone call away

How International Students Can Prepare for Job Interviews After They Graduate

Making the transition from tertiary education into the world of work can be pretty daunting for a variety of reasons.  But one of the biggest challenges is trying to find that first job after you graduate.  You don’t have a resume with previous experience to rely on, and you’re competing with all your peers who have the same education as you.  You have to out-compete in the interview itself to prove that you deserve the chance to impress. 

The good news is that you can improve your interview skills.  And with the right principles and strategies behind you, you’ll give yourself an advantage over other applicants.  We’re going to run through some pieces of advice for how you can prepare for job interviews and blow your competition out of the water! 

Let’s dive in. 

Research the Company You’re Interviewing At 

Preparation is the most important thing for an interview.  The more work you can do beforehand to familiarize yourself with the company and the industry, the better.  You want to show the hiring team that you have a good grasp of what they do, where they sit in the industry, and where the future of that particular field is going.  If you aren’t able to demonstrate this understanding, it’s a big red flag because it shows that you haven’t done your homework. 

And there really is no excuse in the modern age.  There is so much good information online that you can draw fromi.  It just takes some time and effort – all of which will pay off in your interview. 

Prepare Answers for Common Interview Questions 

While every interview is different, some core questions tend to come up most of the time. You can anticipate some of these questions and prepare nuanced answers that show you in the best possible light.  Here is a great place to start. Don’t try to memorize things, but by having some talking points in your back pocket, you’ll come across as much more articulate and charismatic. 

Be sure to be honest, and authentic though.  Hiring managers have sat through thousands of interviews and can see through it immediately if you’re just telling them what you think they want to hear.  Be yourself.

Craft an Elevator Pitch 

In the business world, it’s common to create what is known as an “elevator pitch.” This blurb is a 30-second explanation of the business and the benefits of the service or products the company provides.  You’re essentially selling yourself in a job interview, so it’s a great idea to come up with your own elevator pitchii.   

What makes you unique?   

What do you stand for?   

What value can you bring to an organization? 

Practice your elevator pitch so that it’s concise, relevant, and speaks to who you are.  You’ll often get a chance at the beginning of an interview to explain a bit about yourself, and this is a great place to use this information.   

Your first impression is critical, and a well-crafted elevator pitch can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you.  And even if you don’t use it directly, the principles will come out naturally in your answers to other questions. 

Prepare a List of Questions That You Want to Ask 

A lot of new graduates forget that an interview is supposed to be a two-way discussion.  Not only is the company trying to assess if you’ll fit in, but you should also be trying to figure out if this job is right for you. So, when you ask thoughtful questions, it sends a powerful signal that you’re confident and taking the process seriously. 

You can and should prepare those questions in advance so that when it gets to that stage of the interview, you can get right to it.  However, don’t ask anything that you could have researched. You want to focus on things that only internal staff members would be able to answeriii.  Lastly, be sure to pay full attention and listen when they respond.  It’s not just about asking the question; it’s actually about incorporating the new knowledge. 

All of these take some time and effort, but when you get them right, you’ll find that you’re far ahead of your competition.  Most people don’t put in the effort and come across as unprepared and less interested.  With these tools in your arsenal, you’ll show the hiring panel that you know what you’re talking about, and you’re ready to hit the ground running. 

Here at CSI, we have a range of different resources and support structures for job interviews to help you make the most of each opportunity you come across.   

By leveraging Optional Practical Training during your academic studies, you’ll have a better sense of what work looks like in your given field. You can draw on your experience to help you craft questions and answers for your interview. Considering asking co-workers or supervisors for any advice they can offer on future interviews as well. 

Put in the effort, leverage what you have access to, and before you know it – you’ll land that first job.  

Contact us today to get the training you need to go after the career of your dreams! 


i ‘7 Things to Research Before Any Job Interview’ by Heather Huhman.

https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/7-research-job-interview/
ii ‘How To Write An Elevator Pitch’ by Michael Tomaszewski.

https://zety.com/blog/elevator-pitch

iii ’51 Great Questions to Ask in a Job Interview’ from The Muse.

https://www.themuse.com/advice/51-interview-questions-you-should-be-asking

How To Effectively Manage Your Exam Stress

Exam season can be a stressful time for anyone. Feelings of anxiety and nervousness can take over, to the point where our performance in the exams actually suffers. In a terrible twist of irony, the more we worry about our exams, the worse we end up doing in them. 

You need to find effective ways to manage your exam stress and maintain a steady and productive period of study so that when the time comes, you can face exams with confidence. Here are some great ideas to get started on dealing with exam stress. 

1. Start Review Early 

The first thing to remember is that it’s important to start your review work early. A lot of exam stress originates from procrastination when you set a task to one side day after day and keep putting it off. Eventually, you will have to do it, and it will invariably be under much more pressure than if you just started early. 

The best habit to develop is a continuous review cycle. For example, at the start of a semester, you’ll have your first week of learning. In the second week, make time to review what you covered in the previous week. Reviews don’t have to be time-intensive, especially if you’re consistent, making it more manageable. Following such a pattern means that as the exams draw closer, you’ve already spent time reviewing the work, and you’ll feel more confident. 

2. Maintain a Proper Sleep Routine 

It’s tempting during periods of stress to think you can “tough it out,” stay up all night and get everything done in a short time. You might think that you are helping yourself here.  But, in reality, this will only cause you more stress and anxiety. 

The answer is to maintain a proper sleep and work routine. Aim to get around 7-8 hours of sleep per night and keep your regular bedtime and wake-up times without disruption.  

Sleep isn’t wasted time. It actually helps you to study better. When you’re asleep, your brain processes the information you have taken in and puts it into better order. Have you ever experienced confusion over a question or problem, gone to sleep, and then suddenly the answer just came to you after you woke up? That’s the power of sleep. 

3. Eat Well and Exercise 

Besides sleep, you should also keep up a good nutritious diet and exercise routine. We don’t mean that you have to work out 2 hours a day in the gym. Even a walk each day in the open air can do wonders for your mental and physical state. Eat your regular three meals a day, and drink plenty of water. It’s tempting to “temporarily” substitute junk food to save time, but try to avoid that because it can be high in sugar and ultimately leaves you with less energy. 

We mentioned drinking water, and this is an essential part of a healthy study pattern. Remaining hydrated will help maintain your energy levels, prevent headaches, and generally make you feel more comfortable as you study. 

4. Be Realistic in Your Study Goals 

Next, don’t set goals for yourself that are unrealistic or unattainable. This is the path to disappointment and extreme exam stress. When you think you can cover ten different topics in a day, and then you inevitably don’t, you will feel more stressed out. As we said in the first point, start your study and review process earlier in the semester to set yourself realistic and attainable goals. 

5. Find Study Buddies 

You may have to face the exams alone, but there’s nothing that says you have to study by yourself. It can be effective and relaxing to find someone in the same program and study for exams together. 

Another strategy is to find a study buddy that allows you both to complement each other’s strengths, where one fills the gaps that the other has in their knowledge. Sometimes what students need the most is to hear the same information told in a different way, and the result is often that things just start to “click” in their minds. When it does, you won’t then worry about those questions coming up on the exam. 

6. Take Breaks 

It may feel counterintuitive when you are busy, but regular breaks are important for the same reason as sleeping, eating, exercising, and drinking water. Your brain benefits from being a little distracted from the stresses of life on occasion. Just as with a good night’s sleep, turning your attention to an episode of your favorite show or a few songs on your playlist can help you process information and start to see things more clearly. 

7. Ease Off the Caffeine 

As with the temptation to stay up all night and study, another temptation is to rely on stimulants such as caffeine and energy drinks to stay awake and do more. Unfortunately, this kind of energy is not conducive to effective study. The result may be that you end up sleeping longer in the daytime and thus losing more of your overall study time. 

These stimulants also heighten your senses in such a way that can amplify your stress and won’t help you relax at all. Being more relaxed is the key to staying productive. 

8. Finish the Exam and Put it Out of Mind 

Finally, as you finish each exam, and you’ll usually have several, you must put the test out of your mind and move your focus onto your next task. What many students do after an exam is immediately consult their notes and start checking if they were right about their answers. This is a pathway to increased stress because you might start doubting everything you did in the exam. As each exam finishes, put it out of your mind. 

Conclusion: Remember to Reach Out When You Need Help 

One final bit of extra advice on dealing with exam stress is to reach out for help when you feel you need it. There’s no point suffering in silence. If you are too stressed, struggling with your workload, or otherwise feeling worried about tests and other assessments, reach out to those around you: friends, family, teachers, and others who can offer you help. There is no shame in needing help, everyone needs help sometimes. 

Sometimes, getting that support can be the difference between exam success and failure. Even if exams this time around don’t go your way, it’s not the end of the world. Try to keep things in perspective and never think that it’s too late to get a better outcome next time. 

If you’re looking for an educational institution with friendly, caring staff to support you, contact CSI today. 

How International Students can Prepare for Interviews for Internships/Externships

Internships and externships can give students a significant advantage over their peers upon entering the workforce. For international students, this can be a valuable asset. 

How you conduct yourself in the interview is key to acceptance over another candidate.  

Internship or Externship?

Be sure you know which type of program you’re applying for before you set up the interview. Internships and externships both grant students the opportunity to gain vital experience in real-world settings and circumstances. 

How International Students Can Prepare for Interviews

Whether you’re interviewing for an internship or externship, the ways to prepare for it are much the same.

Know the Company 

There are a few tricks to get the inside scoop on the company you’re interviewing at, as well as the interviewer.  

The Internet is a great research tool, and LinkedIn can provide additional information that you may not find on the company’s website. 

Do check the company website and learn what you can about their history, products, or services and the company’s Mission Statement and Vision if it’s listed.  

Conduct an online search to see what mentions there may be in the news. This is a great way to show you’ve done your homework on the company.  

If you know the interviewer’s name, check their LinkedIn profile to get more information on how long they’ve been with the company. 

Remember to ask your interviewers questions as well. Come prepared with thoughtful questions to ask that show your enthusiasm for the opportunity.  

Leverage Contacts 

See if any students at your current (or previous) school have had an internship or externship at the company. See if they will spend a little time with you answering questions.  

You can also ask your fellow students who have done internships or externships for interview tips and what they feel contributed to their success. Don’t stop with just one. Try to find at least three students, as each one may have a different perspective and unique insight. 

Practice 
 
Any student preparing for an interview will benefit from gathering typical questions and practice answering them. International students may benefit from this exercise even more. 
 
Generally, interview questions for an internship or externship are not unlike those for a regular job interview. They’re simply less focused on your qualifications for a specific role and more focused on your education and interest in a particular field or industry.  
 
Check with fellow students who are also headed for interviews and see if they will practice with you.  

Also, ask your school what resources they have that would be beneficial.  

See if you can do a practice interview on Zoom and watch the recording to see where you can improve. But don’t be too critical of yourself. That will only make you more nervous when it’s time for the actual interview. 

Prepare Your Attire 
 
Don’t wait until the day of the interview to decide what you’re going to wear. Not only does this leave you vulnerable to certain items not being adequately clean, pressed, or otherwise ready-to-wear. It also robs you of the opportunity to use what you’re wearing to help make the best possible first impression.  

Choose an outfit that looks professional and is appropriate for the industry. Make sure it’s properly cleaned and wrinkle-free ahead of time. It may even be wise to try it on the day before to make sure it still fits and looks as you expect. Take the same care in the accessories you choose, such as belt, purse, necktie, or shoes. 

Highlight Your Diversity 
 
Many businesses and organizations offering internships and externships place a high priority on representing diversity in their team. As an international student, you definitively bring that to the table. 
 
In your interview, make sure to highlight your skills and experience.  

International students may have a unique background over their American counterparts. As a citizen from another country, and an international student, you have unique experiences to offer an employer.  

Accentuate these qualities to help you stand out from other applicants with otherwise similar skills and experience.  

Expand Your Network 

There is a lot of benefit in attending networking events. First, you have the opportunity to expand your network of peers and professionals in the fields and industries in which you plan to work. Additionally, those connections can become even more valuable after you graduate. Lastly, you may meet future colleagues or lifelong friends. 

Demonstrating these efforts shows interviewers you’re already taking part in the broader community you hope to join. It displays initiative and commitment. It shows you’ve already been speaking the language and engaging in the dialogues relevant to the organization’s present-day needs. Ultimately, your network can add credibility to your case for selecting you.  
 
To expand your network and find out more about internships and externships in your field of interest, contact Computer Systems Institute now. 

References 

“What Is an Externship? (And How To Get One)”; Indeed 
“Top Internship Interviewing Tips”; The Balance Careers 

International Students in the US – Cultural Diversity in the Classroom

As an international student studying overseas, you may find yourself part of a diverse student body. Students at CSI learn this very quickly because they attend classes with fellow students who come from different countries all around the world. 

Being an international student in the US and enjoying a culturally diverse classroom should be a positive experience.  But what’s it like to be in such an environment?  

One challenge that students face is interacting with people of varying cultural, linguistic, and religious backgrounds. Today’s blog will discuss how international students in the US can get the best possible experience from cultural diversity in the classroom. 

The Problem: So Much Diversity, So Much to Learn! 

The traditional motto of the United States was “E Pluribus Unum,” which is Latin for “From Many, One.” It’s an interesting saying and is well-reflected in the American international classroom. If you’re a student here at CSI, then you spend each day in classes with students from diverse backgrounds; these are the “many.” Together you work towards your common goal, the “one.” 

But when your classmates speak different languages, believe in different things, and have had different life experiences, how can you bring all of that together to make your classroom experience better, more fun, and more productive? This can be challenging. How can we come together as one despite our many differences? 

Hopefully, the following tips will offer you some advice on interacting with students from different countries. 

Interacting with Students from Different Countries – Helpful Tips 

1. Use Your Common Language; Talk to Each Other 

Having a dialogue with another person is the best way to break down barriers and build bridges between different peoples, and English is your tool to bridge the language gap. Just think back to any of your friendships at any time in your life. Didn’t all of them start with a simple conversation? Ask your classmates about themselves, inquire about their interests, their hobbies, and what they love in their lives. 

Simple questions and conversation starters are like the first rays of light you see at sunrise. As the back and forth continues, your confidence grows, you find more in common with these “different” students, and soon you take an important step closer to becoming “one” as a group. 

2. Keep an Open Mind 

The next important tip to remember is to always keep an open mind. Even when we have established a common language and broken the ice with conversation starters, there is still room for misunderstanding.  

During classroom dialogue, there are bound to be some differing views on various topics. Our personal views are closely tied to our background and upbringing, and it takes the opinions of others to show us just how many different viewpoints there really are in the world. Use an open mind and remember that we have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we speak. 

3. Instead of Making Statements, Ask Questions 

After breaking the ice and listening carefully to others, try to respond to other people’s ideas and thoughts with questions. Asking each other questions causes everyone in the room to reflect and consider what they are saying and does so without passing judgment and causing rifts between us. It’s much better to talk and get clarification to prevent simple misunderstandings. 

4. Build on Common Ground 

As you communicate more with your classmates, you begin to discover more and more things that you have in common. These common points become the foundation of your improving interaction and future friendships with members of your class. When you discover those things, hold on to them, keep them in mind and then build from there. Over time, the differences become increasingly meaningless, and the similarities become the glue that holds your new mini-community together. 

5. Learn More About Your Own Culture 

You might think that you know everything there is to know about your own culture, but when your classmates ask you questions about it, do you struggle to answer? Once again, questions that we don’t expect often come from people with differing viewpoints and backgrounds. So, we should take questions as an opportunity to explore more about our own culture to help us all learn more. 

The important thing here is that everyone becomes a little more humble as they realize that they may not know about everything about their own culture. This humility is very useful for creating a more relaxed and open environment for a diverse classroom to get along and focus on the things you have in common. 

6. Be Patient 

Finally, and probably the most helpful tip of all for students in a diverse international classroom setting, is to be patient, give others time to express themselves, and wait for your time to respond and speak. Patience between members of such a diverse group will go a long way to maintaining good communication and friendly attitudes. 

Summing it All Up: Be Yourself 

We hope that you find these tips useful and that they will help you interact more effectively in your culturally diverse classroom.  

We want your time here at CSI to be enjoyable and productive in helping you achieve your goals.  

7 Tips for Writing an Effective Post-Interview Thank You Note


“Thank” and “you” are two little words that will never go out of style when it comes to interviewing for a job – especially when you consider the amount the average U.S. employer spends to hire a new employee ($4,000, according to Glassdoor).
Regardless of whether your interview takes place remotely or in person, sending a thoughtful thank you note following any interview is a tried-and-true way to reiterate your interest in the position and make a great impression.
Need some guidance for crafting a knock-out post-interview thank you note? Keep these seven tips top-of-mind:

  1. Express your appreciation: ALWAYS start your note by sharing your thanks. It can be as simple as “Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today regarding your opening.”
  2. Include specifics about what you learned during the interview: Show your interviewer you were engaged in the conversation by recalling detailed information you discussed, such as the company’s culture, skills they are looking for in a candidate, etc. If possible, take notes during the interview so you can recall the conversation easily.
  3. Reiterate why you are a good fit for the job: In addition to being polite, a thank you note gives you an additional chance to share why you are the best person for the role. Does the company want someone who can juggle multiple priorities? Use this opportunity to emphasize how and when you mastered this skill.
  4. Close your note by offering to provide additional information: It’s always a good idea to offer work samples, references, or anything else that can validate your skills.
  5. Proofread your thank you note: Your good intentions can be quickly derailed if a spelling or grammar mistake slips through the cracks. No matter what job you are interviewing for, you want to put your best foot forward and show you are an effective communicator.
  6. Send individual notes to your interviewers: Were you interviewed by more than one person? It’s important to thank them individually for their time. This extra effort will go a long way!
  7. Send the note within 24 hours: Time is of the essence when it comes to sending your thank you note. It’s best to “press send” within one day of your interview to ensure it doesn’t seem like an afterthought. Amanda Augustine of TopResume, says, “Our recent Thanksgiving survey reveals that sending a well-crafted email within 24 hours of a successful job interview could be the tipping point that catapults you to the top — or the bottom — of the finalist pool. In the job search, timing is everything.” 2

Need an example of an effective thank you note? Check out this sample:


Hi Ms. Jones,
Thank you for taking the time to interview me for Company A’s graphic design opening. I enjoyed learning more about this role and the company as a whole. After speaking with you and hearing about Company A’s culture, I have a clear picture of how I would fit into the team.
As we discussed, I believe the graphic design, webpage design, and search engine optimization experience I gained while studying at Computer Systems Institute will serve me well in this role, particularly when it comes to creating eye-catching designs that engage customers.
I’ve attached several work samples for your review. If I can provide any additional information, please let me know.
Thank you again for your time and consideration!
Best,
Bob Smith


Contact CSI for Career Advice
At CSI, we are available to lend a hand as you navigate the career search – from writing your post-interview thank you note to creating a resume that warrants a second glance. For assistance, email careerservices@csinow.com your name, goals, and any relevant documents (resume, cover letter, etc.), and we’ll reach out as soon as possible.

Why the Classroom Environment is Vital in the Learning Process

Students Studing in Classroom

The environment in which students and teachers interact is vital to the success of everyone involved. Everything from the decorations on the walls to the arrangement of desks and chairs play a role in how well students learn. Here are the most influential factors of the classroom environment and the effects they have on the learning process.

Physical Environment

When establishing a place of learning, the first thing an educator does is assess the physical environment:

  • Light, warm-colored walls and floors are welcoming and create a positive first impression.
  • Decorations should be academically geared and may include student creations as the semester progresses.
  • Ample windows should allow light to shine in, yet coverings should make it possible to view visual media with ease.
  • The temperature should be warm and homelike so students are comfortable and happy to be there.

In addition to the basic structure of the building, the desk arrangement in a classroom is equally important. Individual desks arranged in tidy rows establish order and discourage interaction. This is suitable for lecture halls, but not for collaboration.

When students are expected to work together, it’s much more appropriate for desks to be arranged in groupings, semi-circles or one large circle. This also encourages students to communicate and build relationships with one another.

Emotional Environment

The emotional state of students is closely tied to their physical learning environment. Consider one instance where a teacher in a poor district of the northern Appalachian region struggled to motivate, build trust with and create a sense of community among her students. The classroom in which she taught was in the unfinished basement of an old school. Plain cement floors and walls and floor-to-ceiling poles made the room feel more like an interrogation chamber than a place of learning.

The teacher decided to transform the look of the classroom with donated carpet samples, paint and student-designed wall art. The transformation took six weeks, and when it was complete, the students had renewed pride in their classroom. They bonded with one another and were far more motivated to learn now that they had formed a community, not to mention a more beautiful physical environment in which to learn.

Respectful Environments

The final essential element of the classroom environment is creating a setting where students feel respected and that their contributions matter. Students should never be singled out and humiliated in front of the class, either by being put on display or secluded from everyone else. Teachers should make students feel accepted, valued and wanted.

At Computer Systems Institute, students enjoy learning in beautiful classroom settings. Their physical and emotional needs are met both directly and indirectly to ensure a comfortable, happy and respectful learning environment. If this is the type of college experience you want to have, please contact CSI online or call 1-847-967-5030 to find out more about our business, marketing and other career training programs geared toward international students.

The Benefits of the Classroom Environment for International Students

Students Raising Hands in Classroom

In this age of the Internet, an increasing number of students are deciding to enroll in online classes. There’s no doubt that online learning offers greater flexibility, but the classroom environment also has merits you can’t ignore. If you’re an international student hoping to study in America, consider the benefits of taking face-to-face coursework in a classroom setting.

Hands-on Learning

When the subject matter is physical in nature, the ability to handle it in person is tremendously beneficial. Classroom demonstrations and scientific experiments performed in a lab facilitate the learning process much more than simply reading about a topic.

Even if the subject is abstract rather than tangible, such as business administration, studies show that students who struggle with complex topics tend to learn better in person. Information retention also improves when learning takes place in a physical classroom environment.

Social Interactions with Other Students

When students learn online, they learn alone. Real-time, face-to-face conversations aren’t possible online. This means there is no social interaction or chance to develop interpersonal skills. These are critical abilities for everyone to learn, but this is especially true for international students who may require extra coaching in American culture and social norms.

Many jobs require employees to work well together. Learning in a classroom setting offers you the chance to complete group projects, give group presentations and discover how to work as a member of a team. This translates to the ability to build workplace relationships that will last a lifetime.

The classroom setting also provides the opportunity to develop a network. Often, finding the right career is about more than just what you know – it’s who you know. Small talk on campus can lead to opportunities you would never have known about if you only learned from home.

Greater Assistance from Teachers and Peers

While it’s possible to stay in contact with an online educator via email, instant messaging and video chat, nothing compares to asking a question in real time, either by raising your hand or turning to a classmate for help. Teachers and peers alike can offer extra assistance in person than they can online by looking at the student’s work and making suggestions, perhaps even writing notes in the margins. A little one-on-one time helps with the learning process more than watching a lecture online and emailing your teacher a few questions afterward.

Classroom and Practicum Learning at Computer Systems Institute

Here at CSI, we believe in taking a multi-faceted approach to college education. Classroom learning provides undeniable benefits, but what it lacks is real-world experience. That’s why we encourage classroom and practicum learning. This is when students receive relevant training through an employer, allowing them to use their skills right away in a work environment while still completing classroom-based coursework.

If this sounds like the type of learning experience you want to have, please contact CSI online or call 1-847-967-5030 to find out more about our business, marketing and other career training programs for international students.

From Central Asia to the USA: An International Student’s Long Journey Toward Success

By Mansur Islamov; Skokie, Illinois

Central Asian Student in the USA
Central Asian Student in the USA

For many international students from Central Asia, studying in the USA takes a longer journey and more effort than students from other countries. Many youths from Central Asia make their first stop in Turkey or Russia to gain professional experience and work hard to save money for their future study in the USA.

I recently sat down with Zakir Bekenov, a CSI alumni from Turkmenistan, to learn his prospective on international students from Central Asia achieving academic and career success in the United States. Mr. Bekenov grew up in the north part of Turkmenistan in a traditional family. He grew up speaking three different languages and eventually learned three more. After completing high school, Mr. Bekenov went to Istanbul to further his education. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics. Then he started to work for one of the largest media groups in Turkey. After working there for two years, Mr. Bekenov decided to come to US to continue his education. He arrived in the US in 2014 and studied ESL and Small Business Administrator programs in Computer Systems Institute. After studying at CSI for more than a year, Mr. Benkenov was admitted into the Masters in Business Administration program with concentration in Investment and Operations Strategies at Northeastern Illinois University.

Below is a selection of my conversation with Mr. Bekenov:

Islamov: What made you decide to study in the USA?
Bekenov: Coming to US was my dream during my university years, I could not afford to come for the Work and Travel program when I was back in Central Asia, so once I have saved enough money after a couple of years, I started researching my options to come to US, I considered several alternatives, then finally I decided to come to Chicago through Computer Systems Institute’s program.

Islamov: How did you choose your field of study?
Bekenov: I got my bachelor degree in Economics, then I decided to pursue my MBA. I thought MBA fits my qualifications well and I was right in choosing this program. I learned business more broadly, especially in operations and productions management together with finance.

Islamov: How did your education and work experience prepare you for this position?
Bekenov: I have always loved math and have good quantitative skills since my high school years in Central Asia, my educational background was more than enough for an MBA degree. Moreover, studying at CSI’s Small Business Administrator program was a good experience for me.

Islamov: Is it hard to study in the USA, generally for international students?
Bekenov: From educational perspective it was not hard for me, the hardest part was to finance my education. After completing my first semester at NEIU, I was hired on-campus as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, so it made easier for me to afford my school expenses.

Islamov: What obstacles did you encounter?

Bekenov: I did not have obstacles, I had difficulties. I believe if a person is ambitious enough to succeed, then he can accomplish his goals.

Islamov: What do you do in your spare time?

Bekenov: I am learning programming languages like Python and R Statistical programming.

Islamov: What are your short-term goals and long-term goals?
Bekenov: In the coming couple of months, I want to find a good fitting job in Chicago and start my application to switch my visa from F1 to H1B. In the long term, I want to be working for consulting firms and improve myself in the area of product management, operations management and hedge funds. If I will have time, I will consider another master’s degree in data science.

Islamov: What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
Bekenov: As an associate partner at one of the big consulting firms.

Islamov: What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Bekenov: Having completed my MBA degree in one of the AACSB accredited schools as an honor student.

Islamov: What previous work experience has been the most valuable to you and why?
Bekenov: The one I worked as a data analyst at Feza Media Group. I learned a lot. Especially in the area of data analytics, thanks to the externship experience I gained through CSI’s program.

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Education Choices for Central Asian Students Looking to Study Abroad
Helping Uzbek Students Success in Chicago

Education Choices for Central Asian Students Looking to Study Abroad

By Mansur Islamov; Skokie, Illinois

In the heart of the Eurasia continent lies Central Asia, a region rich in history and culture. This region benefits from a blend of national identities that have been cultivated through centuries. Central Asia, as it is defined today, is comprised of five former Soviet republics: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. All these countries speak Turkic language with exception of Tajikistan. Central Asian countries were under the influence of Russia for the last 120 years. Map of Central Asia

Education System in Central Asian countries

The combination of rich, deep history and culture, made this region one of the most educated in the world, despite the government’s limited education budget (Table 1).

Table 1 Countries GDP on Education (2017) (All amounts in billion USD)* Countries GDP on Education (2017) Moreover, these countries have an even higher literacy rate compared to European countries as well as the rest of the world. (Table 2). However, despite the high level of public education and increasing number of higher education institutions being established each year, (Table 3) Central Asian countries are lacking in noticeable scientific impact. Youth in the region are looking for more contemporary education from advanced countries who have major scientific and academic impact in the modern era.

Table 2 Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years) Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years) Table 3 Number of Higher Education Institutions (1991-2010) Number of Higher Education Institutions

International Education for Central Asian Students

As mentioned above, Russia’s impact on Central Asian countries has significantly influenced the local education systems and education policies. Students receive massive educational support from Russian universities, both during the Soviet era and after. There are still large number of international students, in particular Central Asian students, all across Russia today. However, in the past decade, Central Asian students who are studying in major cities of Russia, triggered rising xenophobia from local residents.

Central Asia shares the same education system with Russia, which is not being dynamic nor productive in the modern scientific field. According to US.news.com, the best ranked school of Russia is Lomonosov Moscow State University and which is ranked #267 among Best Global Universities (April 2018).

Because of these two major factors above, rising xenophobia and declining educational standards, Central Asians are looking for better options, outside of Russia for their higher education needs. At the same time, and partly as a consequence, the pathway of studying in Western countries, on top of them the United States, has become increasingly attractive.

The Benefit of US Education for Central Asian Students

First, students who study in the US make positive economic and social connections as well as other forms of network ties with the Western world. These interactions will help contribute to their own countries’ integration into the global economy. Most Central Asian economies heavily rely on natural resources. International students with advanced knowledge returning home will help their country to build more diversified economies, so that the next generation will not sorely rely on their “God given” recourses.

Second, students can benefit from America’s open society. International students who attend US schools tend to be more open to universal values, including democracy, rule of law, etc. These values can be very helpful for international students in their future business life on a global stage.

Third, the increasing international student flow will stimulate local authorities back at home to take new actions on improving their own education standards. There are already clear signals of positive reforms on-going that governments in this region have begun to increase their education funding. Russia has taken new actions to attract foreign students in the region and around globe. Moreover, these actions followed by the economic benefits will in return help combat the xenophobia among local residents and foreign students.

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Helping Uzbek Students Success in Chicago
When You Choose to Study Abroad

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