This semester, UNC is home to 126 exchange students from other countries — which is about 9 percent less than the number of students who studied abroad in Chapel Hill during the 2013-14 academic year. Half of these students are enrolled for one semester, and the other half will spend a full academic year here, said Adrienne Cromwell, the University’s International Student Program Manager.
“The students choose UNC based on its reputation and extensive course offering,” Cromwell said in an email.
“UNC comes highly recommended to them by their peers who were exchange students at (UNC).”
To provide a positive experience for the international exchange students, UNC students and administrators allocate certain resources for those who are new to the country.
UNC Easing Abroad Students’ Entry is a student-run organization that many exchange students go to for resources as they settle into life in North Carolina.
The organization pairs each exchange student up with a UNC student. It also provides services such as airport rides and regular social events for the exchange students and their mentors, along with community members.
“We give them the contact information, and it’s up to them to pursue the relationship,” said Rachel Gentry, president of the organization. “Some of them become really close, and some of them just use the mentor as a resource.”
Rafaela Granzotti, a senior from Maringa, Brazil, said her transition to UNC wasn’t painless but was doable.
“It was not easy, but at the same time, it was not so hard,” she said. “In Brazil, I grew up watching American movies, so you already know what to expect.”
Catherine Dirks, who studied at UNC during the 2013-14 academic year from Sheffield, England, said she found on-campus resources helpful in her transition.
“(The organization) was fantastic with making it easy to settle in, as was my roommate and R.A.,” said Dirks.
Alasdair Johnston, a junior from Edinburgh, Scotland, said he has found UNC to be very different from his home school, the University of Glasglow.
“The standard of work is lower, but you do more of it,” said Johnston.
Johnston said he has been pleasantly surprised by the school spirit in Chapel Hill.
“I guess what really surprised me most is how enthusiastic everyone is about the University,” Johnston said. “I was at the football game on Saturday, and it was quite an experience. I’ve never seen that type of hype.”’