INTO students make themselves at home.

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Olle Verschoof at the INTO welcome barbecue.

Hao Lu travelled more than 7,000 miles from his home in China to study business through the INTO New York at Drew University program because he said he liked the American university system. INTO New York at Drew is the first program of its kind at a national liberal arts university.

Lu is one of 27 students who arrived at Drew this year for the pilot year of the INTO program, which provides a pathway for international students to earn their college degrees in America. INTO students hail from seven countries, including China, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, and Pakistan, joining a diverse undergraduate population at Drew that represents 31 countries in total.

Lu says the campus is a far cry from the bustling city he’s from. “It’s like a park, there is nature and the air is fresh.” He jumped right into student life, visiting New York City and going pumpkin picking. Lu hosted a party in the Tolley-Brown lounge where he deejayed Chinese rap music. “It was good,” he says. “The students were dancing. They were enthusiastic.

Other INTO students say they are enjoying their first Drew semester. Tingan Li of China said he loves the proximity to New York City and the personal attention students get from their professors. As part of the Chinese Student Association, he converses with American students who want to learn Chinese.

“It’s good so far, the people here are friendly,” says Trunan Chandran, who heard about Drew in his native Malaysia and plans to study business and economics.

Olle Verschoof said it was his guidance counselor in the Netherlands who told him about Drew. “When I saw the beautiful campus,” he said, “I just wanted to go for it.”

Some INTO students are participating in intensive English language classes. All of the students are taking part in a humanities seminar on American culture with non-INTO students.

“The INTO program has allowed students, both international and domestic, to learn so much about communication and different cultures,” says James Ramey, residence director of Tolley-Brown. “INTO students are engaged and continue to challenge themselves in areas like academics and socializing. It’s been great.”

Lu has this advice for other international students, “At the beginning, everything is hard and you need to get used to that. Everything is going to be fine with time passing.”