International Students Increase in Numbers


The number of international students enrolling at Fordham University has steadily increased during the past few years, mirroring a national trend recently reported by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Ninety-five international freshman students started at Fordham in fall 2012; this represents a 34 percent increase from two years prior.

This year, there was a 56 percent spike in applications from international students compared to 2012, according to minutes published from a recent Faculty Senate meeting.

But if you ask students and faculty, the increase in the number of international students means much more than the numbers alone reveal.

“I think that Fordham is just a very attractive place for international students for the same reasons that it is for American students,” Monica Esser, an associate director for international admissions, said. “Because of our location in New York City, the Jesuit model of education that we operate under, our small classes and the supportive environment that students find here.”

“I wanted to study abroad and come to Fordham because I love the education system in the US – it’s very open,” Zihui Ye, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’15, who came to the U.S. from China two years ago, said.

Ye, who is originally from Hangzhou, went on to explain some of the differences between Chinese and American styles of learning.

“In China, we have a core [curriculum] and electives as well, but I think there is less interaction in classes than there is in America. Professors will talk a lot more than here, and the classes are bigger,” Ye said. “It is much more lecture-style. I love the interactive nature of the education here—that’s basically the main reason I came.”

But Esser made sure to note that the students from overseas are not the only ones to benefit from their being here.

“I think [having more international students] adds a different element to the living experience and the classroom experience for all of the students, especially our domestic students who might not have the opportunity to study abroad,” Esser said.“I think our international population has really been one element of the diversity that we offer.”

According to Esser, students from China make up between 40- to 45-percent of the incoming international freshman class this year.

“There’s a lot more availability of visas through the U.S. State Department, and therefore, a much larger number of students who can study overseas from China. It’s a pretty interesting phenomenon that’s happening, and [Fordham is] a part of that phenomenon,” Esser said.

“There was a speaking problem at first,” Ye said, who took mandatory English classes in China that focused on reading and writing. “I got stuck a lot. It’s a challenge, but I believe that language is a tool for people to communicate their sincerity. What’s in people’s hearts is the faith that makes communication good. That’s the essence of it. So as long as I have that, I don’t have a problem saying anything. I may get stuck on words, I may respond more slowly than other people, but I’m not worried about it because I have the most important stuff in my heart—I think.”

Mika Tsukazawa, FCLC ’16, an international student from Tokyo, Japan, had considerable experience speaking English before coming to Fordham, but  the transition to a mostly-English setting was a challenge.

“I’d never spoken English constantly because I’d never really lived in another country, so I’d always spoken a mixture of two languages. Not being able to do that was a difficulty for me,” she said. “Right now I’m okay because it’s already been months since I’ve gotten here.”

“Fordham is a really warm community,” Ye added, “which I found really quickly after I met Rev. Vincent DeCola [S.J., assistant dean for first year students], who’s super-warm and helpful. And my first-year roommate, who was super sweet and took care of me just like I was her own child.”

“The first time I got here was during orientation and I felt very welcomed,” Tsukazawa said. “There were a lot of people to help us like in the Office of International Students and Counseling Services. I felt very safe and everyone was nice.”

Ye, who was recently elected the Treasurer of the United Student Government (USG) at FCLC, said about the position that “after two years of being in USG, learning how to be a leader and seeing that there were open positions on the executive board, I thought it would be good to challenge myself a little and become a bigger part of the community—to help other students.”