BMCC proudly welcomes students from all over the world, who speak a variety of languages, from more than 155 countries.
This spring, BMCC’s annual International Student Orientation, was held on-campus; students had all their visa, academic, travel, and registration questions answered by staffers in the Admissions office.
New students also toured the college, and broke up into networking, meet-and-greet groups to learn more about one another.
According to Lily Yi-Elkin, Assistant Director Admissions/International & Transfer Services, most incoming international students have questions about the CUNY Assessment Tests, which determine their placement in specific courses.
Yi-Elkin oversaw two days of orientation for the incoming international students. She also aids students with their visas/study abroad paperwork when coming to the U.S.
“At orientation, the students really liked when Dr. Eugenio Barrios, Director of Admissions, spoke about his own experiences as an international student,” she said. “He came to the U.S. from Puerto Rico and when he discussed his academic struggles, the students were very engaged and could relate.”
‘Make me stronger’
New student Natalya Gajadhar is a nursing major from Trinidad. She worked as a quality assurance officer at a hospital in her native country.
“I love taking care of people and I’m looking forward to making an impact as a nurse,” she says.
Gajadhar decided to study in New York because, “it will make me stronger.”
This semester, she plans to “do lots of research in the field of nursing, plan ahead, and recognize it can be lonely to pick up and move elsewhere."
But, she says with a smile, "I'm eager to make new friends."
Liberal Arts major Hasibe Melda Kahraman is Turkish; raised in Germany.
While working as an au pair in Rockland County, she took weekend courses at BMCC and decided to enroll full-time for the Spring semester.
“I was already introduced to the college, and decided to just stay on,” says Kahraman, who speaks English, Spanish, German, and Turkish.
New student Manuel Gunther is an aspiring social worker from Germany who relocated to New York from Texas.
“Hasibe and I have bonded since we’re both from Germany,” he says. “We just met!”
Gunther was impressed by Fiterman Hall. “I love the view from the big windows; I can’t wait to start studying in that building,” he says. “Fiterman gives BMCC a real homey, collegiate feel. I like the way the classrooms are set up around the campus. In Germany, we sit two students to one table; here there are elevated lecture classes or many students sitting at one table. Every classroom is different, and I like that.”
Hard-working New Yorkers
Business management major Aricie Binet—whose first language is French—is from Saint Barthélemy.
She took ESL courses at a language school in Manhattan, where staffers suggested she enroll at BMCC.
“I have a background in marketing, which is what I’d like to pursue here in the U.S.” she says, adding that “New York is an energetic, open-minded city and I find the people here are hard-working and friendly.”
Last semester, an International Student club was founded on-campus—resurrected after many years. The new club president will be Business Administration major Florence Bradley, who came to New York City from Switzerland.
After receiving her GED at Hostos Community College, Bradley enrolled at BMCC in 2011.
“It is so important for newcomers to meet current international students, and bond with each other,” she says.
Bradley hopes more international students will join the club, and aims to organize culture-themed trips to museums, shows, the United Nations, and more.
“I hope the club will also educate students about on-campus resources they may not even know about, such as scholarships, grants, and services such as SingleStop, the gym, the pool, and the LRC, “ she says.
“International students can be shy when it comes to meeting new people; especially if English isn’t their first language,” adds Bradley. “This club helps new students adjust to college life and to New York City; step by step. International students need each other’s support and guidance. It’s not easy to leave familiar territory and relocate to another country. We need to help each other like family.”