Things I wished someone told me during my first year as an international student at Emory

Banthida Komphasouk, 2nd year Global Health student

Congratulations for choosing Rollins School of Public Health! And a double congratulations for all international students on making it safely to Atlanta from your home country! As for me, coming directly from Laos and staring my Master of Public Health in one of the best schools in the US made me nervous and excited at the same time. I wanted to participate in all the activities offered as well as see as much of Atlanta as I can. Although I did go to all the ‘obvious’ events such as the lunch and learns at Rollins, there were some things I didn’t know about until the second year that I’d wished I knew during my first year; and therefore, I’d like to share them with you.

  1. First, is using the services offered by the international student services (ISS) office. The office itself is in the main Emory campus area (about 20 minute walk), not within close proximity of Rollins, therefore, I was not aware of their services at first. They have great staff that offers a lot of help for international students regarding bus routes, transportation, filing tax returns, visas, etc. The staff in the office deals with lots of internationals students therefore they have a lot of experience and knowledge about issues pertaining international students; and if they cannot help you, they can direct you to who can. They now even have a service to borrow household goods (such as pots, plates, iron, etc.) for students during the semester, so why buy when you can borrow.
  2. Another great event from the ISS office is their International Coffee hour.  Only for international students, its main purpose is to bring international students from all the different schools and programs (undergraduate, graduate and PhD) together to form a community and make friends. It is always held on Friday between 11:30-12:30. The event starts with light lunch followed by games and activities. Unfortunately, my first year at Rollins, I had classes from 10 am to 12pm every Friday for 2 semesters straight, so I was never able to participate. Now that I am able to attend, I would highly recommend it if it works for your schedule. It is a great way to make new friends and be involved and updated on what other activities are happening at Emory (aside from Rollins). Who knows, you might meet students from your own country!  For more information see
  3. Lastly, is a service provided by Emory for students to be able to explore and see Atlanta! It’s called Emory Experience. I heard it from a friend during my second year at Rollins, and it provides FREE shuttles to highlighted places in Atlanta every Saturday during the school year. Some of the places include the Atlanta zoo, Centennial Park, the High Museum, Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Six Flags over Georgia, etc. This service is great for students to explore all the highlights of Atlanta and it’s on a Saturday so you won’t be missing any school days. The list of the bus schedules are: and it changes every semester.

I hope my blog was helpful and useful for all you soon to be international students at Rollins. I hope once you are here that you get to enjoy all the great services Emory has to offer. Although course work and studies are important, I think being able to make new friends from different cultures and countries as well as getting to know the city you will be spending 2 years in is just as important, and Emory does offer great services and activities for international students to do that. So take advantage of it!  All the best!

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