Colleges are increasingly welcoming students from Asia into their freshman classes as the continent becomes more important politically and economically. According to the Office of Institutional Research, about 130 students at the College are from Asia.
p. Junior Nydia Ngiow cited her curiosity about American culture as the reason for her decision to come to the College from the East Asian country of Singapore. “You see so much of the U.S. on TV, and I wanted the chance to experience the college lifestyle, which is entirely different from what college is like in Singapore,” she said.
p. The National University of Singapore is one of several Asian university participants in the College’s Tuition Exchange Program.
A financial award from NUS helped Ngiow cover the costs of studying overseas. Coordinator of Global Education Programs and Services at the Reves Center for International Studies Nicole Cloeren believes the expenses of international study and a general dearth of funds from stateside sources account for the sprinkling of undergraduate international students.
p. “Unfortunately, William and Mary doesn’t have funds for recruiting international students,” Cloeren said.
p. Despite the lack of official funds from the College and the slim possibility of winning a scholarship as an in-state student, Ngiow took advantage of the undergraduate exchange program with assistance from the NUS.
p. By contrast, international graduate students compose 62.9 percent of all international students, which can be attributed to the well-endowed graduate programs at the College.
p. For junior Priyanka Khosla, a veteran of the International Schools system — structured after the American education system — Khosla found college in the U.S. a logical next step.
p. “The transition is easier to go to an American college, rather than having to adjust to a British education system and finding it hard to get used to their college requirements,” she said. The College’s suburban setting and Williamsburg’s function as an historical site attracted Khosla when she visited her brother, now an alum.
p. “I liked that the campus was small, cozy and friendly. Especially for a newcomer to the States, you don’t really want to be in an environment swarming with students,” Khosla said, adding that she had wanted to avoid such an overwhelming situation.
p. In addition to relying on word-of-mouth to hopefully increase attendance by international students at the College, the Reves Center also “mail[s] out letters to advertise William and Mary to other schools,” Global Education Office Services Assistant Sally Lavendar said.
p. Senior Jenny Cheng also did her homework before beginning her four years at the College, by completing her last two years of high school in Pennsylvania. “I wanted to experience the American culture through living with an American Christian host-family and going to school here,” Cheng said.
p. Once international students arrive, Cloeren, Lavender and others at the Reves Center serve students’ logistical needs and organize programs that aim to provide insight into American culture, reducing the potentially negative effects of culture shock.
p. Ngiow, Khosla and Cheng and believe their time as international students in America will equip them with the knowledge and skills to help them succeed in the future. Khosla praised the cultural organizations on campus as a way for American students to expand their own horizons.
p. “I feel that Americans need to know more about the world, and through these clubs they get a taste of different parts of the world, which makes them appreciate it more,” Khosla said.
Continuing their education in America also presented a new challenge.
p. “I wanted to take myself out of the comfort zone and see how I would cope in the U.S.,” Ngiow said.
p. Cheng encourages everyone to study abroad. “Cross-cultural experiences will definitely enrich your life and take you even further in life beyond W&M,” she said.