Every so often a GroupMe message appears on Limeng (Shirley) Liu’s phone.
The message invariably reads something like “We want to taste this specific Chinese dish, but I don’t know how to order that. Can we do another reunion this week?”
For Liu, this message reminds her of the first memories she made at Indiana University. Thanks to the IU2U program, before she was even a freshman, Liu got to learn about what life is like in Bloomington and the culture at the university. Liu is an international student from Nanjing, China who is majoring in informatics with a concentration in computer science and has two minors in business and statistics in the Kelly School of Business.
“When I was an incoming student, I just participated in the IU2U program,” Liu said. “At that time, I was new to IU, new to IU2U too.”
Liu’s first experience learning anything about Indiana University was attending the IU2U events abroad.
IU2U is a pre-arrival international orientation program designed to help new undergraduate students and their parents learn more about life at IU by engaging with faculty, staff, and current students in a fun and interactive environment. The program offers various workshops during the days of visit to help students and parents with any concerns they might have.
“If you are an incoming student, there should be an email with a link,” Liu said, when asked about how she first got involved. “Right now, the Office of International Services created a social media site, where you can also sign up through there.”
Thanks to her positive experience with the informational workshops abroad, Liu learned more about the IU2U program and applied.
For international students like Liu, visiting the IU2U website provides the information and steps needed to sign up for the workshops to learn more about the program. Angela Gast, director of the IU2U program in the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (OVPUE) was Liu’s first contact in learning more about the program.
Liu’s relationship with the IU2U program started before her freshman year when she was a participant and shifted over the next three years as she became student leader, translator, and guest speaker.
“I feel like being part of the IU2U program is a treasure for me, I get a lot, a lot, of happy memories, especially with other student leaders,” Liu said.
International students and domestic students are encouraged to apply for the IU2U program to expand their knowledge of different countries, learn new ways of being effective communicators, and to tackle problems in unique ways.
“It’s also a good time to practice your English, like oral-speaking skills, because you will be living with them for 5 to 10 days,” Liu said.
As a veteran student leader, and from her personal experience, Liu understands that most international students tend to stick with other international students that are from their same country or in the same classes.
She hopes that, for others, being a part of the program will create long-lasting friendships like the ones she has made.
“The IU2U program is kind of like a link between U.S. students and international students,” she said.
IU2U student leaders should expect to meet a lot of new students and parents while traveling abroad. Meeting and answering questions presented at the workshops are the responsibility of the IU2U student leader to answer. Although Liu says that it could be intimidating at first, there is no need to worry about making mistakes.
“You have the feeling of others supporting you, that they are standing behind you and supporting you, that you are not alone,” Liu said.
International student leaders also get the opportunity to show domestic students some of the traditional foods in these different countries and learn more about their cultures.
Liu has been a member of the IU2U program for four years. She feels that the program has allowed her to meet new people and learn more about the directors and faculty. Liu also found opportunities to learn more about graduate school by speaking to some of the faculty in IU2U.
“I feel very lucky that IU gave me a lot. My first part-time job is because of IU2U, my research is because of IU2U, I joined the student advisory board and it’s also because of IU2U,” Liu said. IU2U is my opening to the outdoor classroom experience.”
The IU2U program is currently seeking student leaders to represent IU in June of 2020. To learn more about the program and to connect with current and former student leaders visit here.