Be Thankful for the International Student Experience

FISH members commemorate a day of culture, friendship, and learning by taking a group photo at the barn.

We all know the benefits of international students enrolling in American schools. Of course they bring their diverse perspectives to the classroom, but they also bring additional tuition dollars to schools. Walk around any college campus in the United States and you will see this growing international presence.

But, just how substantial has the growth been? According to the Institute for International Education, international student enrollment grew 10% last year. The total number of international students in the United States is 974,926, with about 31% coming from China.

Think about this statistic from an Inside Higher Ed article by Elizabeth Redden about the University of Illinois: “There are more freshmen from China than there are, combined, from 48 of the 50 states, all save for Illinois and California.”

The international student boom in the United States is in full effect — there’s no denying it. Many experts would argue international students are a saving grace for schools dealing with turbulent domestic enrollment data. But, how often do we sit back and say “thank you” to these students? How often do we think about ways to satisfy these students? And how often do we evaluate the effect current international students have on future international student enrollment?

The answer to all of these questions is a resounding “we don’t.” So, FISH Institute hosted a Thanksgiving meal on a quiet, picturesque farm in Lambertville, NJ to show our gratitude. The trip kicked off with a tour of the scenic 32 acre farm. Students expressed that the farm was exactly what they hoped America to be like: spacious, clean, and filled with nature. While some examined the area normally used to grow crops; others took a few moments to simply lay on the grass and stare up into the clear blue sky. After the tour, they enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast compromised of smoked turkey, deep-fried turkey, brined turkey, ham, stuffing, roasted brussels sprouts, fingerling potatoes, green bean casserole, stracciatella soup, deviled eggs, hot apple cider, and baked brownies, cookies, and cupcakes.

FISH Members enjoying homemade stracciatella soup!

It became evident very quickly through the joyful conversations, laughter, and warm environment, that the students were not sharing this Thanksgiving meal simply as peers, but as a close-knit family.

FISH members enjoying a Thanksgiving meal outside!

To commemorate their time on the farm, students took a group photo in front of the barn. The smiles on their faces made it obvious that this farm held a special place in their hearts, which they will see again in the summer.

After their Thanksgiving meal, the students were given the unique opportunity to visit Peddler’s Village in Buck’s County, Pennsylvania for some Black Friday shopping. With its award winning gardens, colonial-style buildings, and distinctive shops, the students were treated to an exclusive shopping experience like no other, especially because the 42-acre village was illuminated with more than 1 million beautiful Christmas lights. On top of the Black Friday deals, students were ecstatic to walk in such a joyful and beautiful environment.

FISH members visited Peddler’s Village for some Black Friday shopping!

Overall, this thanksgiving trip made it clear how much we appreciate our members. Schools, too, must be grateful for the opportunity to have international students enrolled in their programs.

With the opportunity of recruiting these students also comes great responsibility in ensuring the proper support system is in place to foster international student success.

FISH Institute has been specifically designed for the unique needs of international student in the United States, providing them with the community and resources to thrive.

To view more photos from this event, please view our Flickr. To learn more about FISH and how we can assist your international students, visit our website. You can also email us at Together, we can make the international student experience better.

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