KSU attracting more students from around the world

Katie Smith

Kent State’s international enrollment has increased from 1,090 international students to 2,447 since 2009, according to a news release.

David Di Maria, director of international programs and services, said the university’s primary way to recruit international students is having admissions counselors attend recruitment fairs abroad.

“China is the main sending country, followed by Saudi Arabia, followed by India,” Di Maria said.

After students choose Kent State, the process to apply is “much more complicated than our domestic students applying,” Di Maria said.

The application process for international students requires proof of financials as well as a visa, which could include a background check, he said.

In some cases, after the flight to the United States, some students have been sent back to their home countries by customs.

Once students are on Kent State’s campus, a lot of programming and advertising takes place to get international students involved, Di Maria said.

Salma Benhaida, sponsored student services coordinator in the Office of Global Education, said the university hosts events for international, as well as domestic students, on a weekly basis.

“Every other Friday, we have our Cultural Café, and usually it features one country, so we have an international student presenting about their country and sharing their culture,” Benhaida said.

She said the event is informal and serves as an opportunity for international and domestic students to come together and learn about different cultures.

The university also provides other avenues for international and domestic students to form a relationship.

“We have a living learning community in Koonce Hall where international students are matched with a domestic student,” Di Maria said.

“We have a staff of advisers who help the students with their immigration,” Bianca Simonassi, freshman English as a Second Language major and exchange student from Brasilia, Brazil, said living with two domestic students has helped her adapt to the American culture and meet friends.

“I have amazing friends here,” Simonassi said. “I’m having a great experience.”

Although Simonassi is used to 70-degree weather, she said, “I really like Kent State,” despite its unpredictable weather.

Similarly, Alaa Zain, junior biotechnology major and exchange student from Aswan, Egypt, said, “I had my first chance to see snow; it was awesome.”

Zain said her first couple of weeks at the university were difficult.

“Starting classes was hard for me because it’s different here from my university, so I have been overwhelmed, but then I started to get used to stuff here, and I’m doing pretty good,” Zain said.

Zain, who does not have roommates, stayed in her residence hall during the first weeks of the semester but has since “decided to get out of (her) shell and go and talk to people.”

Zain said she and her friends now go and make the most of all of the international events the Office of Global Education has to offer.

Contact Katie Smith at [email protected].