Category Archives: International Student and Scholar Services Blog

Background Information about U.S. Election – Part II


This article is written by Molly Heidemann, Associate Director of International Student and Scholars. 


If you did not have chance to read the first part, we urge you to read it.

5. Is it kind of by default that the two parties take turns to lead the country?

Well, yes, sort of. There is no rule that says a certain party can only rule for specific number of years. But since the US is relatively split between the two parties, usually after one party has been in power for a while, public opinion will start to shift back to the other party. In general, we’re never completely satisfied with our government or the policies they put in place, so we tend to blame whichever party is power for everything that is going wrong. This isn’t necessarily fair or logical, but it means that power tends to shift back and forth between the two parties. During the past century, the longest stretch that one party held power was 20 years (Democrats, 1933-1953). The only time since then that one party held power for more than 8 years was 1981-1993 (two terms for Reagan, followed by one term for Bush).

6. What do you think of the general campaign being so costly – would it be worthwhile to put the money which is used for campaign in other areas?

It appears from my research that between 2 to 2.5 billion dollars has been spent on the 2016 US presidential election (and other 4 billion on congressional races). However, it’s important to note where the money comes from. About a third or so comes from fundraising (people donating money to the campaigns), anywhere from one to two thirds from the candidate’s party itself, and then maybe 10% from super PACs (political action committees). To the best of my understanding, the government doesn’t use taxpayer money to fund elections. In other words, while it’s a lot of money (a sickeningly large amount of money, in fact), it’s not necessarily money that would be put toward some other good cause if it weren’t used on the election. Of course I wish that elections didn’t cost so much – it seems outrageous – and that people would use the money for better causes, but it’s not that simple。

7. What kind of policies will Hillary and Trump have for international students who want to find a job in the U.S or gain a Green Card?

It appears that Hillary has not said much about H-1Bs, which may imply that she wouldn’t make any big changes to the program. However, she apparently made a statement that she would like to “staple” green cards to the diplomas of foreign nationals who complete degrees in STEM fields (in other words, automatically grant permanent residency). I’m sure it wouldn’t be that simple is reality, but she seems to support a pathway to permanent residency for those in STEM fields.

Trump, on the other hand, has said that he wants to increase wages for H-1B recipients. This might sound like a good thing, but what it means that that companies would be incentivized to hire Americans over foreign nationals because they would have to pay the foreign nationals more. He has apparently also talked about requiring companies to seek American workers before recruiting foreign workers. Another article stated that he “has called for an indefinite ‘pause’ on issuing new green cards for workers, in which businesses would have to prove they were unable to fill jobs with American employees.”

8. If Trump fails in this election, what kind of influence will this have on his business and daily life?

Your guess is as good as mine, my friends. Seriously, who knows? Personally, I would like to see him fade into oblivion, but that is probably wishful thinking. It seems that the campaign would have a negative effect on his reputation (assuming he loses), but perhaps he will attempt to use his increased fame, whether positive or negative, to launch some sort of new reality TV show or to fundraise for future candidates. My guess is that we’ll hear his name for a while. I just hope I don’t have to see his face or hear his voice every time I turn on the news. That would at least be a nice start.

Come to our workshop this evening to learn a lot more about the election! Hope to see you there!

Resources and further reading:

How to Talk to Americans Part Two – What to Talk about


Have you read the Part One about what not to talk about with Americans? Want to know what topics are usually chosen? Molly would like to give you advice on talking with Americans.

Now that you know some of the things you shouldn’t talk about, you might be wondering how to start a conversation with an American. What are some things you can talk about?
An easy one to start with is hometown. Ask where they are from. Most people like to talk about their hometown. Don’t you? Hopefully they will also ask you about your hometown and you can tell them about it. Talk about the weather, the food, and the landscape. And be sure to ask them about these things as well.
Speaking of food, food is a good topic of conversation as well. Ask what kind of food they like, where they like to eat in Oxford, if they miss the food from their hometown, etc. Be sure to tell them about the food you like as well. I think many Americans would be fascinated by some of the things people like to eat in China!
Another easy topic of conversation is hobbies. What do you like to do for fun? What do they like to do? Hopefully you can find something in common. This can even lead to the possibility of doing something together, like going to the Rec or getting together to watch a movie or TV show. But don’t be surprised if an American doesn’t follow through on getting together with you the first time you mention it. For Americans, hanging out with someone outside of class is a big step in a friendship, and it can take some time to reach that level. (My hair stylist and I have been talking about getting together for lunch for months, but neither of us has taken the initiative to actually do it. Americans are slow and cautious about making new friends.)
Other good topics are sports, movies, music, video games, etc. And if you can’t think of anything else, talk about the weather! Americans love to talk about the weather. I’m not joking. Whether it’s too hot, too cold, rainy, snowy, windy, or beautiful outside, we love to talk about it. We can easily spend several minutes talking about the current weather, the forecast for tomorrow, and how the weather has been lately.


The next time you want to start a conversation with an American, try saying something about the weather.

After you finish discussing the weather, try talking about how the weather compares to the weather in your hometown.
Then ask the American where they are from. Discuss your hometowns a bit, including the food, and let that segue into what kind of foods you like in general and where you like to eat in Oxford.
This can lead easily into what other things you like to do in Oxford. Oh, you both like to play basketball? What teams do you follow? Want to get together and shoot some hoops at the Rec sometime?

How to Talk to Americans Part One – What not to Talk about

This article is written by Molly Heidemann, Associate Director of International Student and Scholars. 
I often hear international students say that they would like to make friends with Americans, but they don’t know how to talk to them. I am here to give you some suggestions. First, it’s important to know that Americans tend to be relatively private, and it can take a long time to develop a deep friendship with an American. Don’t be offended if an American keeps their conversations with you short and shallow for a while.
Starting a conversation with someone can be difficult, even when you are from the same country or culture. But it can be even more challenging when crossing cultures because you’re not sure what topics are safe and what topics might be rude or offensive. Or maybe you just don’t know what Americans are interested in talking about. Today I will give you a list of some things you should avoid asking or discussing with Americans (at least at first). Tomorrow I will provide a list of topics it is usually safe and easy to discuss.

Things not to Talk about

Age and weight
This one is probably universal, but it’s still worth mentioning. As in many cultures, it is rude to ask someone their age and weight – especially women, and especially people over the age of about 25 or 30. In the US, it is not important if you are a little older or younger than your friends, classmates, or colleagues, so there’s really no need to ask. Personally, I am often curious about people’s age and might eventually ask (if the person is near my age or younger), but I would never ask during our first several conversations. Regarding weight – there’s really never a safe time to ask about weight unless maybe you are workout buddies who are trying to help each other meet certain weight goals.
Salary and money
Salary is probably one of the most taboo topics in the US. We almost never ask someone about their salary. I suppose I might ask my sister, who I am very close to, but even that might feel a little awkward. Similarly, we don’t usually talk about how much money we have spent on a large purchase, like a car or a house. Under certain circumstances it might be okay to ask, but only if you know the person very well. I recently asked a good friend of mine how much she spent on a new couch, and it felt a little uncomfortable. It’s best to avoid the topic of money for a long time, or maybe forever. If you decide to ask a question about money, it’s usually best to end the question with “if you don’t mind my asking?”
Politics and religion
This one is a little trickier. Some people are very open about their political or religious views, but it’s best not to ask them about it until you have gotten to know them pretty well, or until they mention it themselves. In addition, you have to be prepared for the answer. If someone has very different views than you do, the conversation might become incredibly awkward. With the election coming up in the US, you might be tempted to ask your American classmates about it. A relatively safe question would be, “What do you think about the election?” You should not ask who they support or who they plan to vote for unless they offer this information willingly. 
Personal relationships
This is another tricky one, and might apply more to conversations with older Americans, such as your professors or advisors. It is best not to ask an older American if they are married or have kids or if they plan to have kids. Some people are sensitive about not being married yet or about not having children. For people who are unable to have children, this question can be upsetting. Usually, as you start to get to know someone better, you will naturally find out if they have a spouse or children because they will want to talk about their family. Just be patient. Similarly, in order to be respectful toward different sexual orientations, it is usually best to ask someone if they are dating anyone or are in a relationship rather than asking if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend (for example, you would not want to accidentally ask a gay man if he has a girlfriend).

Hang In There… You Can Do It

This article is written by Molly Heidemann, Assistant Director of International Student and Scholar Services. We hope that you have encouragement and support during finals week!
This is my attempt to provide some inspiration as you head into finals week…

On April 24 I ran the Red Brick Run 5K for the 9th time. It was the first time that I didn’t run the race faster than the year before. But it was also the proudest I have been after running a 5K. Let me explain…I started running in early 2007. A friend of mine convinced me to start going to the gym with her a couple nights a week after work. Exercise had never been part of my regular routine. In fact, I was entirely nonathletic as a child. I never played soccer or softball like most American kids. I dreaded gym class. I was much happier reading or doing something artistic. So when I started running with Erin, I didn’t have big goals. Erin suggested that we have the goal of running a 5K together, but I said I thought that was ridiculous. Still, I kept going to the gym with her a couple nights a week and very slowly adding minutes to the amount of time I was able to run.

A year later, I left Indiana University and moved to Oxford. By that point, I was able to run 2.5 miles. Shortly after beginning to work at Miami, I heard about the annual Red Brick Run 5K that takes place in April. Erin said. She would come visit me and run it with me if I was interested. I felt that a challenge had been extended and I couldn’t say no. So in April 2008 I ran my first 5K – slowly, but I ran it and I finished. I couldn’t believe it. I never dreamed I could run a 5K.

After that, I ran the Red Brick Run every year, and every year I ran it faster than the previous
year. After a few years, I started to think it was impossible for me to run it any faster. And yet,
I continued to surprise myself. Every year I said “no way can I possibly beat last year’s time”
and yet I found myself notifying my friends and family that I had once again achieved a
“personal best.” Every year I swore that I would believe in myself next year, but when next
year came I would once again say “no way can I do it.”


In 2015 I ran my fastest 5K at the Red Brick Run – 27 minutes, 16 seconds –12 minutes faster than my first 5K in 2008 (that’s 4 minutes faster per mile!). But it still wasn’t fast enough to earn a prize in my age group. That’s okay – I never expected to be a fast enough runner to earn prizes… I was just competing against myself. In December 2015 I injured my hamstring pretty badly. It has been a very slow recovery and I haven’t been able to run as much as usual since then. So when it came time for the Red Brick Run in April, I had very low hopes. I assumed I had no chance of beating my best time. I figured this would be the first year that I didn’t break a new record. And I was right. But that’s not the whole story…

As I was driving to Millet on that beautiful Sunday morning, I started to feel my competitive spirit breaking through. I decided I would just push myself as hard as I could. My iPod had broken a few days before, so I didn’t have an easy way of knowing how fast I was running during the race. I just kept pushing myself. As I sprinted toward the finish line, I saw the clock and knew I was very close to last year’s time. I couldn’t believe it. As it turned out, I was 6 seconds slower than last year. If only I had known how close I was, I would have pushed myself just a bit harder.

Then the miracle happened. The race was over and we were listening to the prizes being
awarded for each age group. When it was time for my age group, they announced the first place
winner and then the second. And then, somehow, they were saying my name. After 9 years of running this race, I finally placed third in my age group. I was shocked. And incredibly
proud. And all I could think was “When will you start believing in yourself, Molly?” So I promised  
myself that next year I will believe that I can beat my record. I hope I keep that promise to
myself. After reflecting on all of this, I’ve realized that it’s somewhat of a theme in my life – to
not believe in myself. I remember semester after semester in college calling my mom and
telling her I was freaking out because there was no way I could get everything done. And yet
somehow I did. And you will, too!
Finals week is a race to the finish line and the race has already begun. Now you just need to
push yourself to the finish. My challenge to you is to believe that you are capable of great
things. In fact, you are capable of more than you can imagine. Sometimes it’s easier to believe in
others than to believe in yourself. All I know is, if I can reduce my 5K time by 12 minutes and
place third in my age group when I have a torn hamstring and low hopes, you can do just about
anything you set your mind on. You can finish your essays, you can pass your exams, you can
become proficient in English, you can be a leader. It doesn’t mean it will be easy or that you
don’t have to work hard or won’t ever fail, but you have it in you to accomplish great things. Just
believe in yourself!

Tips for Welcoming International Students


International Students Walking to Class

Top 10 tips from the International Student and Scholar Services Staff

1. Be patient with international students when speaking. They are often translating in their head and need time to process what you are saying and how to form their response. Remember that lack of fluency in English does not indicate poor intellect! Students are working across cultural and language barriers. Please be understanding.

2. Speak clearly and avoid slang, idioms, and acronyms. When in doubt about if a student understands, remember to SCORE:

Simplify and Specify
Clarify and Confirm
Organize and Outline
Rephrase and Reframe
Explain with Examples

3. Be sensitive to students who come from a collectivist culture. Try to be understanding when students want to stay connected to those from their own country, or make decisions based on their friends or families.

4. Go beyond just “where are you from?” and ask about their city or province. If you do not know much about the country or city that they are from, ask more questions about if it is urban, rural, big, small, etc. A student from Beijing will have a very different life experience than a student from a town in rural China.

5. Do not assume all Asian international students are from China. We have students from Korea, Japan, Vietnam and other Asian countries who find it very difficult to be consistently lumped into the Chinese student population.

6. Talk about food! Food is usually one of the most difficult adjustments for international students, and it is an easy topic to discuss. Ask what they think of American food, or what dish they miss most from their home country.

7. Share stories about yourself. Students will appreciate when you talk about your family, home, personal life, etc. and will be able to easier connect with you.

8. Take the time to learn how to correctly pronounce their name. Even if they are shy about correcting you, ask them to pronounce it for you and make an effort to learn it.

9. Keep up with global current events. Be aware of any major news events happening in a student’s country, and inquire about how their family is doing in the event of war, natural disaster, etc. These can be large stressors on a student, and recognizing that something is going on can help them during a difficult time. In addition, show an interest in cultural holidays or other (more positive) current events.

10. Remember that cultural sensitivity does not simply mean understanding another culture, but also requires an understanding of one’s own cultural background and biases. Try not to assume that our way of doing things is the “right” way, and that an international student’s way is “wrong” or “backwards”. Let international students teach you about their culture, and your own!


Chi Ozone, Exchange Student from Japan


Chi Ozone

Chi pictured in Germany

Exchange Student from Kansai Gaidai University in Japan

Senior, Marketing Major


Chi at Miami University’s Charter Day Ball with friends.

Chi has spent her four years of college all over the globe. She started her college career with two years studying at Kansai Gaidai University in Japan. She then spent her junior year of college at Hochschule Ludwigshafen am Rhein in Germany. And now, she is spending her senior year at Miami University. Prior to starting college, Chi also spent time in Whitby, Canada as an exchange student.

When asked about her favorite part about Miami, Chi said that she loves the Farmer School of Business and the programs that offered through Farmer to business students. Chi took part in Start-Up weekend this past fall. Besides business courses, Chi is currently enrolled in German language courses. She not only loves to travel, but she loves to learn new languages. She speaks English, Japanese, and German.

Being someone who loves to travel, naturally Chi has taken full advantage of being in the United States and being able to visit various locations. She has visited places as popular as Boston, to places that are lesser known, like Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She will also travel back to Canada for Spring Break to see her host family. On her bucket list before she leaves the United States, Chi would like to visit the Grand Canyon in Arizona.


Chi in Germany.

When asked to compare universities in the United States to those in Germany, Chi said that American students are very involved with multiple clubs and organizations on campus. She used Greek life as an example- a community that German universities do not have. And although Chi has enjoyed spending several years abroad, she says that she does missing a couple things from home- her family and the food.

Chi will finish her year at Miami and then will head back to Kansai Gaidai University where she will graduate this August. She will then have some time off before she starts a Sales and Business Management Position with a crane company in Tokyo in April of 2016.

January and February Highlights from ISSS

Out international peer orientation leaders for spring's orientation - they make welcoming our new students possible!

Our international peer orientation leaders (iPOLs) for spring’s orientation – they make welcoming our new students possible!

What a busy two months it has been for ISSS and our students!  At the end of January, ISSS welcomed over 120 new international students to our campus.  We were lucky to have relatively warm weather as we moved students into their residence halls, provided information sessions, and welcomed them to campus with dinner uptown and ice skating at the Goggin Ice Arena.


Students arrive jet lagged but excited to learn about Miami!

Students enjoy their first dinner uptown with iPOLs!

Students enjoy their first dinner uptown with iPOLs!

We also welcomed 15 students from our exchange partner universities.  These students will study at Miami for one or two semesters, and help strengthen Miami’s connection with countries all over the world.  This semester’s cohort includes students from Mexico, China, South Korea, Ghana, Japan, Austria, and France.

Exchange students goofing around with returned Miami study abroad students

Exchange students goofing around with returned Miami study abroad students

Early February marked the kickoff of our Spring Global Buddies Program.  Global Buddies pairs International students with American students as a means to promote deeper interactions across student populations.  Students start the program with an orientation about cross-cultural friendship, and are encouraged to meet with each other once a week.  Special Global Buddy events are planned through the semester as well.

On Valentine’s Day, ISSS hosted a bus trip to Kenwood mall so that students could shop and enjoy some time outside of Oxford.  Many students used this trip as an opportunity to buy an outfit for the Charter Day Ball.  Some students called it their one chance to go to an American style prom!




Students all dolled up for the Charter Day Ball!

Our NationaliTea on February 9th was to celebrate and teach students about the American version of Valentine’s Day.  Students enjoyed making valentine cards together as well as indulging in an array of pink and purple cookies and treats!

A classic American tradition – making valentine cards!

A classic American tradition – making valentine cards!

The Lunar New Year is a very important holiday for many of our students, and the Confucius Institute helped us celebrate at the February 16th NationaliTea with a dragon dance and a presentation about how the Chinese celebrate this special time of year.

dragon dance

The dragon dance is a traditional way to celebrate the Chinese version of the Lunar New Year holiday

After the big snowfall, some students ventured out on a bus trip to the Halal Market in West Chester.  This trip was to help provide Middle Eastern students access to halal goods and other products they may be missing from home.  Students also enjoyed lunch at the Laziz Grill and Bakery, where we dined on delicious hummus and chicken shawarma.

The snow couldn’t stop these students from a visit to the halal market and restaurant!

The snow couldn’t stop these students from a visit to the halal market and restaurant!

Last but not least, ISSS hosted an American Culture workshop for students to learn more about how to deal with cultural differences here in the United States.  Topics covered included diversity and individualism, as well as helpful tips on communication and university culture.  We started the workshop by asking students what they expected America to be like before they came here in one phrase or word.  Some of the most common words were: friendly, democratic, and awesome!

photo 2


ISSS staff members Jing Luo and Sarah O’Connell shared facilitating duties at the American Culture Workshop

Along with our programming efforts, ISSS staff have been busy getting all new students registered into the federal immigration system, as well as ensuring that all new and continuing students are fully enrolled and compliant with government requirements.  This is a process that occurs primarily in the first month of the semester, but continues throughout the year.  ISSS also meets with all international students who are struggling academically to help them succeed in the new semester.  We work closely with academic advisors and the Rinella Learning Center in this pursuit.

Looking forward to March, ISSS has many great events ahead, starting with the chance for students to go to an NBA game and see the Indiana Pacers play against the Philadelphia 76ers in Indianapolis.  We will also be working on career development for international students.  This includes a huge career fair in downtown Cincinnati in collaboration with the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce and other Ohio universities, as well as helping graduating students apply for their optional practical training.

We are excited to continue supporting our international students this semester and are looking forward to spring!




Brazilian Science Mobility Program’s student of the month


Marcos Vinicius de SouzaCongratulations to Miami exchange student Marcos Vinicius de Souza for being selected as Brazilian Science Mobility Program’s student of the month! We are so lucky to host students from this program, and love having them on our campus for a year. Read his essay here about the influence Miami courses have had on his future as a Chemical Process student.

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