As freshman Claire Mapes took in the maroon canal houses and bridges lined with greenery, she was reminded it would all be soon replaced with the red bricks and blue fountains of Elon University.
Coming to Elon from the Netherlands, Mapes is one of 102 new international students starting at Elon this fall. According to Vice President for Enrollment Greg Zaiser, 6% of the incoming freshman class are international students.
“I’m just excited for college in general,” Mapes said. “I’m excited for the transition. Moving around a lot as a kid also kind of helped solidify my need for a new transition.”
Shanna Van Beek, communications manager of the Global Education Center, said the GEC is additionally helping international students, such as Mapes, adjust to life on campus through International Student Orientation. International Student Orientation precedes New Student Orientation and assists students in receiving access to academic and logistical resources, along with introducing them to Elon community events, including meeting President Book at a welcome breakfast.
Mapes, originally from Dublin, Ohio, lived in the Netherlands for her last two years of high school. During her junior year of high school, Mapes lived with an Israeli host family in the Netherlands. She immersed herself into their culture through practicing speaking Hebrew and participating in holidays and traditions commonly celebrated in Israel.
“It was just nice and kind of mind opening to experience a new culture,” Mapes said.
Mapes’ time abroad as an international student in the Netherlands inspired her to study international business at Elon. Mapes said she hopes to become involved with Model United Nations, where she will have the opportunity to expand her knowledge about international relations, non-governmental organizations and working with nonprofits.
One class Mapes said she is excited to participate in during her time at Elon is a public health course with Stephanie Baker, professor of public health studies. Mapes wants to work with a nonprofit partnering with children in different countries, where learning about public health at the international level will give her a better understanding of assisting global communities.
“They’re intertwining subjects,” Mapes said. “You kind of find out about human migration
patterns and aspects that change those and that kind of helps dictate what types of facilities are needed in the area, how much money goes to certain sectors.”
While public health remains important to Mapes, it is also on the mind of Emily Krechel, Director of New Student and Transition Programs. International students, along with incoming freshmen and transfer students are required by the university to be vaccinated. Krechel said the university will accept any vaccine that has been granted Emergency Use Listing by the WHO. Students whose vaccines have not received WHO approval must be revaccinated in the United States to meet this requirement and follow all university health and safety measures.
In efforts of bridging the gap between international students and the access to vaccines, Krechel also acknowledged that different countries have varying levels of accessibility to the vaccine. Students will have the opportunity to get vaccinated on campus or within the community when they arrive. Krechel said the GEC is partnering with Healthy Elon to help international students on campus get access to vaccines.
“We are partnering to make sure they get those resources that they need in order to be successful and healthy here at Elon when they start,” Krechel said.
As international students are adapting to a new life at Elon, Mapes said she is looking forward to making cross-cultural connections with students and expanding her knowledge of the global world.
“I lived abroad but I think that’s one kind of step but there’s also the education that comes with that too,” Mapes said.