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International R/O Acclimates Students

Indranath Neogy--The Tech
International freshmen took advantage of the shade near East Campus for their "Pizza and Games!" event on Tuesday

By Stacey E. Blau
Editor in Chief

Over 80 freshman international students completed three days of social events and information sessions yesterday as part of the International Residence and Orientation program.

New international undergraduate students, representing over 45 countries, arrived on campus over the weekend to begin events that kicked off Monday with a breakfast, immigration information session, and a welcoming lunch and reception with administrators and faculty.

International R/O exists for new international students to "have a chance to start the activities of R/O in a smaller group," said Manolis I. Kamvyssleis '99, one of the program's organizers.

Over the past three days, international students have been to a number of social events, including dinner in Boston, a dance mix party in Baker House Dining Hall, and a night of movies, pool, and video games.

"Every time I get out of something, I think it was the best event," Kamvyssleis said. The events are aimed at such a small and close-knit group that freshmen "become best friends in two days."

A number of events centered around getting students settled with paperwork and issues specific to international students, including an immigration information session and a Medical Center presentation.

Some popular R/O events among student events included tours of Boston, Cambridge, and facilities at MIT. "The best things were the tours," said Daniel Nelkenbaun '00, who is from Bolivia. Not everyone went to all the social events, he said. "Perhaps they should have made those mandatory."

Events smooth transition

Deteline Vasileva '00 from Bulgaria said that International R/O events helped ease the initial apprehensions she had when she arrived at MIT. "The events made me feel better," she said. "The people who organized the events were great. I'm really thankful to them."

The events, both social and useful, are aimed at getting freshmen adjusted to MIT and American culture, said Milena M. Levak, associate dean and section head in the International Students Office. "Many of them are here for the first time in the United States."

International R/O is intended as a smooth transition time. Students "will go through a period of adjustment," Levak said. "Homesickness, missing their food and missing their friends - this is part of adjustment."

Holding International R/O before regular R/O begins and other students arrive helps with the transition.

"There's a different purpose for regular R/O," particularly with the pressures of rush, Kamvyssleis said. International R/O allows students to "do cool events without having anything else in mind."