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International Student Programs and Services

Lots of students leave campus during the holidays. What are my options as an international student?

While many students choose to leave campus during academic breaks (U.S. Election Day, Thanksgiving, Winter Break and Spring Break), the residence halls remain open to their residents and you may stay on campus from move-in to the end of Spring semester. Although campus will generally be quieter during these times, administrative offices are open and operational and students (international and domestic) do stay on campus.

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Dining services shut down during the holidays. Where should I eat?

It is true that Dining Services are closed during academic breaks. During break periods, students remaining on campus are still able to use their Flex Accounts to purchase food at off-campus vendors. You can add money to your Flex account through SSOL. First year students have the option of choosing a meal plan (Plan 3) that includes flex.

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How can I meet other international students, students from my country or with my background?

While we always encourage every student to learn from various communities and cultures while at Columbia and in New York, we understand the need to connect with others who share a similar background during your transition to campus life. Columbia offers over thirty cultural organizations that create spaces for all students who are interested in and/or share a particular culture, and who are excited to share that culture and experiences with the greater campus community.

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Can I join any student group?

Yes. While student groups are open to all students, some groups may require an audition, application or other requirements to join. Many simply allow you to start attending meetings at any time to participate and encourage you to do so. Two large-scale events that showcase student groups at Columbia include an Activities Fair during New Student Orientation Program and the Activities Day fair held every September.
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Are students invited to all alumni events?

This depends. Check the alumni events calendar for events and contact the event lead with any questions. Events in the U.S. may not be open to current students and will specify.

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How can I learn more about Gender and Identity in the U.S. and at Columbia?

College is a time for students to explore and learn more about themselves and others, including their identities such as gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and socio-economic class. Multicultural Affairs is a great resource to engage in dialogues, workshops, weekend retreats, one-on-one conversations with a peer or staff member, and programs about identity.

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How can I contact alumni to work with my student group on campus?

If your student group is interested in connecting with international alumni, please contact Chia-Ying Pan, Director of Education, Outreach & International Student Support, with your request. You may be asked to provide further detail.

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How do I get involved with the alumni club in my home city?

If you would like to get involved with alumni in your city, please visit the Alumni Clubs website to search domestically or internationally for a club. Each club has listed a contact to email. The Center for Career Education offers advice on other ways to connect with alumni.

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I am interning abroad in XYZ city; are there events going on or any opportunities where I can meet other students and alumni?

To find events abroad, first check the alumni events calendar. Events listed with green stars are school based and may be restricted. Alternatively, you may send an email to the Office of Alumni and Development with the region and dates in question and someone will let you know.

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What is the best way to connect with others who share my religious beliefs?

A great place to start is the Office of the University Chaplain (OUC). The OUC ministers to the individual faiths of Columbia University's diverse community of scholars, students and staff from many different faith traditions while promoting interfaith and intercultural understanding. Toward this goal, the Office of the University Chaplain creates and sponsors programs concerning justice, faith, and spirituality.

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