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New international student orientation

It all starts with a dream, a dream made up of possibilities… adventure, learning, growth and success. The dream is also interlaced with uncertainty, lots of questions and a sense of homesickness. It is with a combination of all these facets and a big dose of determination that our international students leave their family, friends and what is familiar, for an education in the U.S.


Many who have either studied or lived abroad for any length of time understand that the first few weeks in the new environment influence how one is able to successfully adapt, learn and engage to support a positive learning outcome In an effort to build community, the International Student and Scholar Services (ISS) launched a 14 week pre-arrival online orientation that introduces incoming students to the DePaul community and provides them with critical information in their planning to live and study at DePaul. Upon arrival, new students attend a conference-style in-person orientation. Garrett Grenz, ISS Associate Director of Advising explains that the week-long orientation is designed with the following goals in mind: (1) to provide students the necessary information to be successful in their first 2-3 weeks, (2) to connect the students with the ISS team and show them where to get support and assistance during their studies, and (3) to create an environment where students are able to connect with each other and make friends to build their peer network.


While the week-long orientation provides a good framework for new international students, it is through continued orientation that our students truly begin to build community and culturally adjust to the U.S.Jennie von Drehle, ISS Associate Director of Student Engagement oversees engagement programs designed to build community and connections for our international students. “A student’s ability to be successful is much more than learning in class and students must feel that they are part of DePaul’s community to be successful’, Jennie explained. Through programs such as Global Coffee Hour, a networking event targeting new international students around topics important to their first year success and adjustment, students learn how to navigate conflicts successfully, how to make friends at DePaul, and how to successfully meet their academic and personal goals. 

The engagement programming is an extension of orientation, designed to contribute to the academic, social and personal success of international students. Throughout their stay at DePaul, not only do ISS staff support international students through their visa and immigration benefits and applications, they also support them through various programs that support their continued cultural adjustment and development. An overarching goal of the ISS is that every international student feels truly welcomed by the DePaul community. One program designed to provide a warm welcome to international students is MEAL with DePaul, where DePaul faculty and staff host new international students in their homes for a meal. Another program, ISEE, focuses on peer-to-peer mentoring, and matches new students with current DePaul students across the university.

It is clear that the ISS team is passionate about creating a welcoming environment and helping international students realize their dreams of growth and success...and in the process these students contribute to the richness of the Global DePaul community. To find out more about the ISS and how you may contribute to the diversity of Global DePaul, visit