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With most classes and club meetings being held according to Columbia’s East Coast time zone, international students have been left to study or find community during the wee hours of the night. Most first-years and transfers haven’t even had the opportunity to explore campus or experience college life in daylight.

But fear not international night owls! Spectrum has compiled a list of resources to help foster the sense of community that is sorely missing to make your virtual experience better. If you’re feeling a little disconnected, check out some of the options below!

International Student Services

The International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO) is a go-to department for any international student at Columbia. During the pandemic, the office has put together a hub of COVID-19 resources. These include webinars discussing updated university policies and how they relate to international students, travel protocols on a local and national level, and a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions for admitted and current students. They also run a Facebook page where you can keep track of any upcoming events.

For Barnard international students, The Office of International Student Services (ISS) is available for any questions regarding employment, housing, or international student policies. They also host professional and social events, notably during International Education Week.

Global Ambassadors

The Global Ambassador Program is a social initiative composed of approximately 20 undergraduates in Columbia College and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. These ambassadors are matched with small groups of students, leading them in activities and discussions in order to form stronger bonds. The diverse groups act as a safe space for students to come to terms with cultural differences and traditions in the United States while helping them settle into their new lives. These discussions usually occur twice a month on Fridays, now virtually. Although the deadline to be an ambassador has passed, you can email Multicultural Affairs at multicultural@columbia.edu to find out how to join the student group. You can also sign up for their newsletter here.

Barnard College also has a Global Ambassadors Program, consisting of students who assist in orientations, attend international student events during International Education Week, and work with ISS to create programming proposals that help tailor services to the needs of new and current students. To learn more about the program, email iss@barnard.edu.

Global Centers + WeWork

With many international students left in environments that are less than ideal for productivity, the University has made plans to accommodate them through their Columbia Global Centers. Global Centers offer Columbia students designated working spaces available in Paris, Beijing, Istanbul, Amman, Nairobi, Santiago, and Tunis. For students not in the seven cities with open Global Centers, Columbia has partnered with WeWork in order to provide workspaces for cities around the world with a high density of Columbia students. Find out more from our article on the Global Centers.

Facebook Groups

There are two major Facebook groups dedicated to international students:

Internationals@Columbia: This group is open to all students, regardless of program or school. It covers a wide range of information regarding updates on international restrictions and keeps track of information pertinent to them as they plan to return to campus.

Barnard College International Students: This Barnard-specific group is run by Barnard’s Student Government Association, and is monitored by the vice presidents of each class. It’s the perfect location for any questions you might have, including those on available resources, clubs, academics, and housing.

Culture Clubs

Although we certainly haven’t included every club that may appeal to you, the clubs listed below are all holding events that are open to you at any point during the semester!

African Students Association: ASA holds discussions on the complex political and social history of Africa, and encourages virtual meet-ups. Follow them on Instagram @asacolumbia.

Alianza: Alianza works to mobilize the pan-Latinx community at Columbia and Barnard through social, educational, and professional-development events. Follow them on Instagram @cu.alianza.

Black Students' Organization: BSO is an organization dedicated to supporting Black students on campus and promoting Black culture and history. They are holding virtual events and mixers this semester for the Columbia community. Follow them on Instagram @columbiabso.

Brazilian Society at Columbia: The Brazilian Society is an open club for anyone interested in Brazilian culture. The club hosts general body meetings and events, as well as announces opportunities for students. Follow them on Instagram @brs.columbia.

Chinese Students Club: CSC promotes awareness of Chinese culture. They’re currently holding “Connect Pods” for community members to get to know each other better, so make sure to sign up! Follow them on Instagram @columbiacsc.

Club Bangla: Bangla is the University’s Bengali Student Association, and hosts weekly meetings. Message them on Instagram to join their general body group chat and keep up on events, laugh at memes, and be a part of the family! Follow them on Instagram @cubangla.

Club Zamana: Zamana acts as the umbrella for all South Asian groups on campus. They host several events over the year and are currently promoting their Big-Little program for students to get to know each other. Follow them on Instagram @club_zamana.

Columbia University Sewa: CU Sewa is a student organization based on the Sikh concept of service. They are holding virtual weekly meetings, Zoom study sessions, game nights, and picnics that are open to all. Follow them on Instagram @columbiasewa.

Columbia Japan Society: CJS is open to anyone with an interest in Japanese culture. They also have their own Japanese food blog on Instagram which explores Japanese cuisine around the world. Follow them on Instagram @cjscolumbia.

Korean Students Association: KSA is perfect for anyone with an interest in Korean culture, regardless of your heritage. They also host events that are open to the general public, so don’t hesitate to reach out. Follow them on Instagram @columbiaksa.

Mujeres: Mujeres is a Barnard Latinx organization for Barnumbia students, and focuses on promoting Latinx culture. They’re hosting a virtual Afrolatinidad event with BSO soon, so make sure to check that out! Follow them on Instagram @barnardmujeres.

Native American Council: NAC recently hosted several events to celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day. To see more of their work on creating an Indigenous family on and off-campus, follow them on Instagram @nativeamericancouncil.

The Sapna Project: Sapna holds discussions once a month regarding issues that the South Asian community is facing, as well as hosts “Chai Chats” this semester. They also hold open board meetings for anyone to get involved at any point during the semester. Follow them on Instagram @cusapna.

Turath: Turath is the Arab Students Association at Columbia. This semester, they’re holding a combination of in-person (socially-distanced) and virtual events that are open to all. Follow them on Instagram @cuturath.

Staff Writer Swethaa Suresh is currently nocturnal in Singapore with a 12-hour time difference. She isn’t looking forward to the end of Daylight Saving Time for the 13-hour difference. She can be contacted at swethaa.suresh@columbiaspectator.com. Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

international resources ISSO ISS Global Centers clubs Global Ambassadors Facebook groups culture clubs global
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