International Orientation: banks, beaches, and Bollywood

Friday, September 13, 2013 by Ji Su

Hey everyone, I’m back at the blog! A quick re-introduction and I’ll jump right into my first post of this school year. (Big thanks to Li Yip Koh ’14 for all the photos on this post).

My name is Ji Su and I’m a junior engineering major at Harvey Mudd. I grew up in Korea, Singapore, and New York. I will focus on mechanical engineering, and study Chinese language as my humanities concentration. I enjoy food (too much), art, and photography, aside from all the math and science I do here.

At the end of this summer, I helped organize International Orientation, along with 30 other Orientation leaders and the International Place office staff. This is the orientation that most international students participate in before heading to their school specific pre-orientation trips and orientation events.

The goals for the international orientation are of course slightly different from the school-specific ones. We basically help new students get settled into life in a new country. This involves everything from bank accounts and cellphone plans to understanding some of the cultural quirks of the US & California.

Ivan ('15) hanging out with the new international Mudd frosh!
Ivan (’15) hanging out with the new international Mudd frosh!
Dean Jacobsen (Dean Jakes) and Cheng Wai in a discussion with the frosh about Mudd academics
Dean Jacobsen (Dean Jakes) and Cheng Wai (’16) in a discussion with the frosh about Mudd academics

But our orientation isn’t only about getting errands taken care of. In addition to buying laundry hampers at Target and walking around the Claremont Village sipping on Jamba Juice, we take the new students to Newport Beach, organize a talent show, and practice hilarious skits that demonstrate ‘college life’ (with slight exaggeration here and there…).

Newport Beach is stunning
Newport Beach is stunning! Also, you can take the ferry to Balboa Island and get the famous frozen bananas. We found the original frozen banana stand too!
Human pyramid at Newport Beach
Human pyramid at Newport Beach
Post-talent show dance party with the NISSO leaders & the new students
As tradition, the orientation leaders usually put together a Bollywood dance for the talent show, after which we all just break out dancing.

Us orientation leaders also have a ton of fun during the weekend when there are no orientation events. In the past we’ve gone on a group trip to nearby Los Angeles, and this year we went go-karting and laser-tagging! We also have a lot of fun just bumming around in the International Place office lounge, sipping on bubble tea and playing Cranium.

Many people stay in touch and remain good friends even after the short 2, 3 days they spend together. It builds a strong support system across all of the 5C’s, and each year international orientation becomes the stepping stone for that network. I know that I’m grateful for having met so many people from the different Claremont Colleges. I spend most of my time at Mudd, but once in a while I do enjoy stepping out and grabbing a meal with my friends from Scripps or CMC. And if you’ve read my blogs before, you know I’m a huge fan of the Claremont Consortium system.

Go karting during the weekend
Sally (CMC ’15), Jack (HMC ’14), me (HMC ’15), Olivia (CMC ’15), Cheng Wai (HMC ’16), and Jonathan (CMC ’17) go-karting during the weekend. Apparently we have to wear these funny sock-thingies before putting on the helmet?

If you’re an international student reading this post, please feel free to reach out to me ( if you have any questions. When I arrived, Mudd’s international population was admittedly pretty small (~10% total, so about 20 in each class). But in the past two years, there’s been a big increase in the number of international students at Harvey Mudd. This year in the Class of 2017, there’s 35 international students, which makes up for 16% of the whole class! Also, we’re now literally from all over the world – this year’s frosh come from the Congo, The Philippines, Turkey, Singapore, etc. There’s a great international community here in Claremont and we would love for you to join us.

And if you’re not an international student, I have many more blog ideas coming up that are probably a lot more relevant to the general Mudd prospective student. So no worries! And of course, please email me or comment on this post with any questions or comments you have.

Happy Friday, everyone, and I promise I’ll write again soon!

Ji Su

P.S. If you want to read more about the events that the International Place office holds, read this post and this post. And this one from the folks at I-Place themselves!