Laurier International’s Coffee Club Programs Help New Students Adapt 

Photo by Isaak Wong

Coming to a new country can be an exciting experience, but it can also be a very nerve racking one, because theres a lot of change.

Laurier has approximately 1300 international students right now, so theres no shortage of students on this campus who find themselves having to adapt to an unfamiliar environment. Laurier International is committed to making their experience as pleasant as possible and theyve created a fun way to do this. 

Once a week, alternating between Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the Laurier International hosts a Coffee Clubevent at the Laurier International Lounge.  

At Coffee Club, students get free drinks and snacks, and participate in a laid back discussion thats led by international student leadersmost of whom are international students themselves. 

Sometimes, the discussions will be about Canadian culture; other times, theyll be about cultures from far away; and occasionally, theyll be about whats going in studentslives. 

Coffee Club events are free to attend. If students go to eight of them, they can get a special designation on their Laurier Experience Record. 

Coffee Club was started about two years ago by Mike Aguiar, an international student advisor for student engagement, who works with the international student support unit. 

Were the ones that chat with students about things like cultural adjustment,Aguiar said. 

My real focus is getting the international students engaged with the Laurier community and thats where the coffee club program comes in. 

The program has had a successful turnout over the past couple of years. About ten students attend per week on average, and they come from all over the world. China, India, Dubai, France, Russia and Zimbabwe are just some of places of origin for students that come to the events, and it allows for there to be a very wide range of perspectives in the group discussions. 

Its great Its a very passive, easy way for these students to get connected. Thats what I like about them: theres no barriers to entry you just show up, Aguiar said.  

In fact, the events are not limited to international students. Any student can come out any week to have coffee, snacks and an opportunity make new friends.

Coffee Club has had a lasting impact on some of the students. Many of them continue to go to the events long after theyve received a designation on their Laurier Experience Record. 

Everything started in Coffee Club,explained Teddy Zhou, a thirdyear international student leader who periodically runs the events now. 

I talked to a lot of people from different cultures, and I understand myself and the other cultures better. 

And then, because of that, I got really interested in working for this organization and get to know more people internationallythats why I ended up in this position, and in a lot of other positions as well. 

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