Winter orientation events kick off new semester

UMSU and International Centre will host programming for new and returning international students

Winter orientation kicked off the new semester at University of Manitoba, with events beginning Jan. 5 welcoming new and returning students before classes began on Jan. 8.

The International Centre is hosting programming specifically for international students who are starting in the winter term.

Fanny Levy, director of the International Centre, said that every term, the centre holds an orientation day, followed by sessions for students to attend after the first day of classes.

The International Centre orientation day took place on Jan. 5. Speakers discussed topics such as the centre’s programs, getting used to campus life and Indigenous cultures.

“We work with a very large number of volunteer students that help us during the day, and that make the day more engaging,” Levy said.

She emphasized the importance of “hearing from students that have gone through similar experiences,” and the advice they can offer.

The centre’s international transitions co-ordinator, Crystal Stewart highlighted her favourite parts of recruiting new volunteers.

“A lot of the volunteers that are applying to be with me were new students once before, and they always say how they had such a good time, and they became friends with the volunteer at their table,” she said.

She said volunteers want to “give back” after being introduced to “a potential friend or a contact.”

“Many of the students don’t know anybody, and so they’re kind of getting off to the right start.”

During the summer of 2023, the International Centre launched a pre-arrival online orientation for international students to complete. Levy said this course was created to try “new approaches” connecting with students before they arrive. The course provides education on living in Winnipeg, health-care systems and International Centre services.

In October, the International Centre started a winter clothing library. It is collecting “gently used winter clothing” for students who do not have those items and cannot afford them.

“The idea is that they can go and check out an item,” Stewart said.

“It’s free of charge, there’s no expectation for them to return it at a certain time.”

Donations can be given at 541 UMSU University Centre and must be washed and sorted into labelled bags.

UMSU is also hosting its own winter orientation events for students, which started on Jan. 8.

The events include free breakfast supplied by Degrees from Jan. 8 to 12, a winter vendor fair from Jan. 8 to 12, a karaoke night on Jan. 9 and a pajama party on Jan. 12.

UMSU vice-president student life Christine Yasay said the events during winter orientation “give students an opportunity to socialize with new students like themselves or returning students and get to know the places on campus.”

Yasay said it is a great time for students to socialize, since at the start of the term classes are not as intense.

To learn more about winter orientation events, visit the U of M website.