Alicia Olivier had to find an apartment in Raleigh, book a trans-Atlantic flight, and get her student visa in the span of just a few weeks to get ready for her fall semester at SKEMA Business School’s Raleigh campus at NC State.
“The process was very stressful but everything went smoothly,” she said.
Olivier is one of about 80 new SKEMA students who recently arrived to start their fall semester on Sept. 15. SKEMA Raleigh campus administrators delayed the start of their semester to allow students time to secure the necessary visa documents and complete updated travel procedures.
“I have always dreamed of studying in the U.S.,” Olivier added. “I’m very persistent and optimistic, so I never abandoned the idea.”
The addition of 83 SKEMA students increases the global diversity on campus during an unusual semester when NC State’s international student numbers are considerably lower because of COVID-19 impacts on embassy operations across the world. NC State also paused inbound student exchange programs for the fall. And like everything else this semester, SKEMA’s orientation to campus also looked different.
“Instead of filling a Talley ballroom with murmurs of appreciation for such an impressive campus, SKEMA students were introduced to campus and the GTI team through a Zoom orientation and a new comprehensive website,” said Melissa Edwards Smith, program manager for the GTI. “We still wanted to provide the students a glimpse at all the great services and facilities we have to offer here.”
The GTI team still met in-person with small groups of the new students in an outdoor class on Centennial Campus and successfully facilitated the GTI Campus Challenge, a competitive Instagram scavenger hunt that orients the SKEMA students to their new campus home.
“We’re very happy that we could facilitate a fun, engaging and safe way to show the students all the exciting offerings we have on campus,” said Becky Cibulskis, programs specialist for the GTI. “Thanks to the help of our three undergraduate student workers, we were able to adjust the Instagram challenge to ensure mask-wearing and social distancing.”
While SKEMA students will continue to attend in-person classes at their campus on Centennial Campus, the remainder of the US Culture and Business course that’s taught by the GTI will be facilitated virtually. Components of their course include a class discussion experience with students in NC State courses, the Developing Cultural Competence Student Certificate Program with NC State students, and a professional development workshop focused on highlighting this unique international semester.
“Overall, I would say the process was very exciting but still a bit stressful because of COVID-19,” Olivier said. “In the end, there was no problem entering the United States and now I am very happy to be here and get the chance to discover this amazing campus and Raleigh.”