My amazing time at the College of Charleston

It was my first experience as an exchange student as well as my first time to travel to the USA, and I’m really glad that the program’s destination was the College of Charleston (CofC). I had a great time here and I could talk about it infinitely but I’ll try to be neat and summarize the most important points in this short blog post.

First of all, I should say that the organization was perfect. All the help with pre-arrival preparations, individual picking up from the airport, student buddies system, all the infinite events held etc., all of these were really well-organized, helpful, exciting and a lot of fun. Probably the most outstanding was how CofC turned the hurricane Mathew student panic into an amazing trip to the University of South Carolina in Columbia for those who had no place to go to during the disaster. I guess I should also advertise the Washington trip held by the Center of International Education and the International Club. It’s the city you definitely have to visit if you’re coming to the US and they make it much cheaper, much more organized and much more interesting for you. To be honest, all the events I managed to attend in the CofC were really good, with lots of free food and snacks, interesting people to meet and unforgettable hospitable atmosphere.

Second, I really love people in Charleston. I come from Ukraine and I study in Estonia, and I would say that people in these two countries are rather quite, calm and a bit cold. That’s why I was really surprised with how friendly, hospitable and open Americans and all the international students in CofC are. It’s really easy to make friends there and it’s really pleasant to live when everyone always smiles to you and wishes you a good day. Being surrounded with permanent positivity, your mood will stay great even during really bad times. I should also mention an awesome opportunity to meet international students that CofC provides. Since there are a lot of people from the most different parts of the world (America, Europe, Asia, Africa) Charleston is a great place to learn about foreign cultures from natives. Besides, since a lot of CofC students had an exchange semester abroad they could also tell you a lot about their experience. I really enjoyed this opportunity and broadened my mind a lot making by friends from all over the world.

One final thing that I really liked in Charleston was lots of activities you can do there. You will always have something to do besides attending classes and will never get bored in the CofC. First of all, there are loads of events held by Center of International Education, student organizations and clubs. You will find some social event at least every other day. If you’re into sports, you can sign up to play for a college team or go play just for fun every week. You can go to one of the college’s gyms to exercise or attend group classes. They have a cool dancing room in one of the gyms, which I really enjoyed going to every other day. Moreover, if you’re playing a musical instrument CofC have lots of practice rooms in the building of arts where you can play either piano or your own instrument any day and any time. I won’t say much about academics because it’s rather major specific, but all the teachers I had there were rather like friends to their students always caring and trying to help every single one. I liked that teachers often promoted interesting events related to their subjects so that the students could learn more about them. Last but not least, you can always go swimming and sunbathing to the ocean, since it’s really warm at least until November.

 

Overall, I will always remember my amazing exchange semester in the College of Charleston and be grateful to the staff and my friends who made my stay there really fantastic. I associate CofC with lots of well-organized and exciting social and educating events and really warm and friendly people. I wish I could stay there longer and I dream about going to Charleston at least once more in the future.

 

– Mykola Herasymovych, Economics Exchange student from Tartu University, Estonia

 

 

 

 

Exploring Charleston: Tea Plantation and Angel Oak tree

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About twenty international students took a ride from CofC international office, and headed to Charleston tea plantation. After about twenty minutes ride, we arrived to a Charleston tea plantation, and it was an amazing place for a quiet afternoon away from the packed downtown areas. We started with tea factory tour next to the souvenir shop. We watched the videos which explains tea production process as we walked in to the factory.

Next, we went to the bus/trolley tour which was very informative as we get to see the tea plants, and fields as well as their greenhouse. After the tour we had a time, so some went to buy souvenirs, some sat outside and relaxed, and some went to try tea samples. In the souvenir shop you can sample as much hot and cold tea as you like. Charleston tea plantation was huge, and I could feel the grandeur of nature in South Carolina.

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Every time I look up the sky I can see and feel that the sky is round, and I can feel that because there is no obstacles between me and sky. Since I grew up in a city area, I had never noticed that before. I can say that I am so lucky and happy that I could come to Charleston, and I appreciate the beauty of nature here every day..

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After the tea plantation, we went to see Angle Oak in Johns Island. I was overwelmed by the size of the tree, and I just couldn’t believe that widespreading branches are from one tree. At the same time, I was really surprised to hear that this tree is around five hundread year old which is older than America. It was interesting to think how can one nation develop and lead the rest of the world in such a short period of time.

– Kurumi Hayashi, Communication exchange student from Kansai Gaidai University, Japan

Starting the Fall 2016 CofC Semester!

It is now more than eight weeks ago since I arrived in Charleston. My first impression was “Wow, what a beautiful and breathtaking city!” This view never changed, as I really enjoy my time here.

The international office is doing so much stuff and trips for us that we really have an amazing time here and see a lot beside studying at the college. One of those trips was the sunset harbor tour, which I will never forget. It was not only a tour, where we learned something about the history of Charleston but also saw Charleston from the ocean side.

As it was a sunset tour, all internationals met around five at the center of Charleston, at the Madison square. But suddenly a lot of clouds appeared at the sky and it began to rain a little bit. Nevertheless, I found out, that the people in Charleston are positive thinkers when dealing with the weather and therefore we hoped that the weather will be better when the harbor tour starts. We walked together to the Harbor, which is near by the aquarium and before getting on board, we took a picture with all internationals in front of the harbor. And as mentioned before, the positive thinking turned out to be good, as the clouds went away and the sun came back. At 6 pm we left the harbor and all of us enjoyed the beautiful weather, the ocean smell, the view, the music on board and above all the chance to see wild dolphins. Yes, dolphins! And not only once, we saw them several times and this was incredible! We also got free drinks during this cruise and also food. There was a huge vegetable plate, lots of chicken wings, tacos, dips, crisps, popcorn and cookies. During the whole trip, the captain talked about the history of Charleston and showed us the old big marine ship, which was really impressive to see so close. After one hour, the sun slowly went down and the sky was getting red more and more. I really got goosebumps, because the whole mood was miraculous. It didn’t need so much time and then the sun hit behind the horizon. We got back to the harbor where the tour started and really have to thank the international office for planning this trip!

I am so far away from home and I miss my family, friends and my home country for sure but Charleston offers so much and the whole area here is so beautiful, whit a lot of things to do, so there is no time for feeling homesick. To study at the college of Charleston is a life time experience! To live in a residence hall together with American students is an opportunity to learn how they life, work and socialize. At the beginning of the semester I was a little bit confused with the system from the college, as it is very different to the one we have in Europe, especially in Austria. All the essays we have to write and the amount of cases and books we have to read here was new for me, but after some time I got used to it and it helped me to improve my English. Most of my free time I spend together with the other internationals. Sometime we have the same courses and could therefore study together and moreover we want to see and do the same things in Charleston.

To say it all in one sentence: During lifetime you will see, learn and experience a lot of things, but only some memories will stay in your heard forever and many people will enter your life but only some of them will stay. My time in Charleston is definitely a memory which I will never forget and I build friendships who will last a life time long!

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-Franziska Stanger, Management and Law exchange student from Management Center Innsbruck, Austria

People (and food) are the best part of study abroad!

Two years ago, I arrived in Charleston without knowing anyone and with no clue how my life would be. I was a transfer exchange student from Japan and I finished my degree at the College of Charleston. These last two years in Charleston turned out to be the best two years of my life! I won’t change this experience for anything. If you ask me what I like about Charleston, I would say everything! I love the place, the weather, and especially the people I met during my study abroad.people 1
The first time I heard about Charleston, I had no clue what it looked like. Charleston is a really charming city with a lot of history. By walking around downtown, you will feel like you are back in time. My favorite thing in Charleston was walking around downtown. I did this for two years and I never got bored. I used to take a walk through the Battery, Water Front, and Harbor Walk after classes with my friends. One thing that I love was seeing the sunset from the Battery. In my opinion, it’s a must thing to do if you are in Charleston! (People who know me are actually tired of seeing my sunset pictures of Charleston..haha)places chs 2places chs
Another thing that I enjoyed in Charleston was going to eat out with friends. Charleston has plenty of places to eat out. From real Southern food to Sushi! And many ice cream places! (I think I have been to all the ice cream places.) My favorite place was the Sushi place (of course). They had a special offer every Tuesday, so we called it “sushi Tuesday” and I went with the international students almost every Tuesday. I will also recommend international students to try the real Southern food. Charleston has many restaurants that serve typical Southern food!

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Finally, I want to write about the people I met in Charleston. Been in a foreign country, away from family and friends from home is tough. People who studied abroad or had the same experience know the feeling of being home sick. I cannot imagine my two years study abroad without the friends that I made in Charleston. Each semester I met people from everywhere! I had never experience the feeling of being surrounded by people from different countries and culture. It’s amazing! Having lunch and dinner together, going for a walk, going to events, and even studying together was a fun experience for me. I feel like I was learning something new each day of my study abroad. Also, it made me realize how unique and different my own culture is. “People are the best part of study abroad”, this is the words that one of my friends in Charleston said and I totally agree. I am so thankful that I met each them and for me, those people are my second family. If I could, I would do my study abroad in Charleston all over again! Thank you for the amazing two years, College of Charleston!

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– Megumi Takei, Business Administration exchange student from Kansai Gaidai University, Japan

Visit to the Tea Plantation

As a Brit, I’m a firm believer that there are few problems a good cup of tea can’t solve. While, admittedly I’m currently living in sunny Charleston, S.C. and I can’t exactly profess any major problems of my own, I decided to venture to America’s only tea plantation with my fellow international students to see what America has to offer on the tea front.

Whether like me, you can barely get through the day without enjoying a nice “brew”, or simply want to explore the beauty of Charleston, America’s only tea garden is definitely worth a visit.

We began our afternoon with a visit to the factory where the tea is made, learning about the processes that go into making different kinds of tea, whether it be black, green or Oolong. Then we enjoyed a scenic ride on a trolley that took us around the historic grounds of the tea plantation. During the ride, our tour guide John supplied us with facts and questions (because who doesn’t love tea trivia) and to our surprise we learned that the Irish consume more tea than anyone else in the world. We also discovered there is no need for the Charleston tea plantation to use any pesticides as the tea plant is naturally resistant to pests. Unfortunately for us however, when it comes to venturing out in Charleston bug spray is your best friend.

We then got to see the result of taking tea from the field to the cup. Available to try were all the different variations of tea made at the Charleston tea plantation. Some might say I was wary, skeptical, or even downright resistant to the cold tea phenomenon, that according to John has captured the hearts, and taste buds, of the majority of Americans who prefer to add ice and lemon, over the milk and sugar popular across the pond. However, after our tasting session of both hot and cold tea, I’ll begrudgingly admit I’d take a nice cold cup of American peach tea most days of the week. Will it replace my love for black tea, a dash of milk and two sugars? Probably not. But seeing where American tea is made and trying it is just one more experience to add to a great year with the College of Charleston.

– Jessica Shelton, American Studies exchange student from the University of Nottingham, United Kingdomtea plantation group tea plantation sign

Go COUGARS – Basketball at CofC!

basketball gameSport is a big thing in the life of a college student in the US. That´s at least the impression you get from movies and series. But what is it really like to be part of a college community and how do they practice their pride in terms of sport? Let´s say it is a little bit as you would expect it. There is a lot of people going to the games, but it is not only students.

First time I entered the TD Arena I was really excited to see my first College Basketball game. You come up, get free entry with your student ID and enjoy the game with your friends and fellow students. Take a seat in the students section and let the show begin. It is not only about the sport or the game why people are there, it´s also a social aspect. Before the game you have the players warming up, cheerleaders getting the crowd´s attention, an announcer and of course a DJ. This all will bring you into the mood to cheer for the team and enjoying your time. Shortly before the Tip-off everyone gets up to listen to “The Star-Spangled Banner” every time performed by someone else, e.g. Kids choir, Solo Singer or instrumental, which somehow shows the American pride. Everyone turns towards the US Flag and holds their hand to their hearts, which is quite inspiring – and then the game starts. To show the support for the team the audience stands up form tip off until the first points are scored for the Cougars and then keeps cheering and commenting on the game, just as in every other sport as well. The game is twice 20 Minutes and the rules are a bit different to the NBA but still fun to watch. The timeouts are filled with contests to win prices, catch free T-Shirts, dance performances by the Cougaretts (Dance group) as well as the CofC cheerleaders, just as you know it from movies and music played by the Cougar band. Furthermore they are used to announce other sport teams or students associations’ achievements as well as special occasions or anniversaries. There is always something going on even if the players are not on the court. Not only the timeouts but also the 15 minute half time break is used for all these activities and this makes it a real American College and a special CofC experience, even for non-sport fans. The cheerleaders get the crowd to cheer for the team and in the second half they give out cardboard cutouts (baby face, Marilyn Monroe, grave stone, etc.) to distract the rival while trying to score a free throw. Most of the time pretty effective. The cheering, screaming, music, etc. goes on until the game is finished and most of the time even won by the Cougars. But no matter how the game is ended at the end the team gets together with coaches, cheerleaders, and players to sing the anthem of the College of Charleston performed by the band. Which rounds up the whole experience of a college sports event and the pride everyone shows by wearing college clothes and cheering for the team.

 

Carolin Winkler, Business exchange student from Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy

Carolin & CofC Cheerleader

Spring 2016 exchange students at a basketball game student section pre-game

International Student Athletes

International students at the College of Charleston participate on a number of the varsity athletic teams from soccer to sailing, tennis to volleyball, and cross country to golf. These international student athletes are valuable members of their teams and the campus community.

Learn more about the experience of our international student athletes from two of our golfers, Vici Drechsler and Laura Fuenfstueck, from Germany:

Being a student-athlete at the College of Charleston means you need to learn how to manage academics, your sport, and your social life. Most of the time, you have to pick two out of the three. As an international student, you have to adjust to so many new things – including food, the lifestyle and the culture – which might sound overwhelming but considering your busy schedule you don’t even have time to think about it. Playing a sport at the College, you will miss a lot of classes but considering the small size of each course, most of the professors will know your name and are happy to help catching up with the missed material. When you’re not practicing for your sport or studying for your classes, Charleston is one of the most beautiful places in the world and offers many opportunities to meet with friends, to sit down and relax, and just have a great time. If we had the chance to go back in time and make the decision again, we would always choose to come back to the College of Charleston.

Learn more about the College of Charleston’s Athletics teams through their website.

Golf Team Picture 2015-2016

Vici Drechsler

Laura Fuenfstueck-Regionals 2015

Halloween 2014

Welcome to the College!

The Center for International Education (CIE) and the new international students have been busy so far this semester! After picking up students at the airport and taking many to shopping to buy items for their rooms, CIE hosted an orientation to help introduce the international students to resources on campus and to provide them with important information. We ended the day with a fun ice cream social where many of the students were able to meet their Cougar Ambassadors, meet our CofC mascot, Clyde, and learn how to play corn hole!

CIE also hosted a scavenger hunt around Charleston, a harbor cruise and beach day to help the new students learn more about Charleston!

New International Students Fall 2015 Ice Cream Social Ice Cream Social Ice Cream Social Meeting Clyde Ice Cream Social Group Corn Hole Amazing Race Winners Harbor Cruise-sunset Harbor Cruise- studentsBeach Day 2015- trolley rideBeach Day 2015- trolley ride2

 

Coming to Charleston

One year ago, I started one of the best years of my life, my first year at the College of Charleston. Being an international student from Norway, transferring from a school in New York, came In hope of completing my education at CofC. And as I am preparing for my senior year here, I don’t really want my time in Charleston to end. To make the most of my last year here I have signed up to be a Cougar Ambassador, and I really want to share my experiences and help all new international students have the best time possible at the school.

Before starting at the CofC I had never been to Charleston, and all I knew I had read on the Internet. But while the Internet may say a lot of nice things, you don’t really see how great the city is until you get there. This city is the definition of the South, with beautiful old buildings, churches, parks, polite people, horses and carriages in the streets, etc. And let’s not forget that we are right by the ocean, in near proximity of plenty of beautiful beaches, and most importantly, we have beautiful, warm weather almost all year long. As I am Norwegian, you might understand why the weather is important to me. A little warning though, it might rain a lot from time to time, so bring a raincoat, and also, in Charleston the streets tend to flood.

When you are coming to a new country, and a new school, you might be going through a string of emotions, and you might find it tough in the beginning. To avoid that, I highly encourage you to first stay in contact with your Ambassador, and when you arrive, also don’t forget that there are plenty of others in the same boat as you. You will have the opportunity to meet these other students at the events put on by the Center for International Education, and I can tell you from experience that this is a great way to make new friends. The ambassadors and internationals might also create events together, for example last year we had a weekly sushi night and a night we all went to the same bar together. Charleston has a lot of very good restaurants and bars, so it is not very hard to have some fun. I would also encourage you to make some American friends as well, and the school makes this very easy by having a lot of clubs and organizations to join, for example for different sports, languages, music, politics etc. These clubs are for all students and can give you a lot of friends and experiences. I, for example, joined the club soccer (football) team, which is for players of all skill-levels, and we even traveled to a tournament at another school.

I could go on and on about all the fun things you can do, how nice Charleston is, and more about me, but in the end all I can say is make the best of your time here; meet new people, see new places, experience the American culture, and do the schoolwork you need. To cap this off, I will now serve you a couple of pictures from my first year at CofC (I’m the Viking).

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Stian Andersen, senior, Business Administration major from Norway

Hello world!

Welcome to the new Center for International Education’s blog for international students at the College of Charleston! This blog is a resource for new and current international students and also highlights the experiences of international students at the College. If you are a current international student and would like to write a blog post, please contact Melissa Ochal at ochalm@cofc.edu.