News Blog

Cultural Exchange: First-ever direct exchange students visit C of I

Fall semester is well under way, and The College of Idaho campus is as vibrant and culturally diverse as ever. The C of I is home to 71 international students representing 49 countries this year, but for the first time, three of those students are part of a direct exchange program.

Emily Tian, Patricia Xinyi, and Taxwen Tin have traveled nearly 7,000 miles from the China University of Politics and Law in Beijing, China, to study in Caldwell.

“I wanted to experience a different culture, the western culture and the western educational system,” Xinyi said.

Her classmate Tin expressed the same sentiment. Scoping out the C of I online, he knew there would be ample opportunity to get involved on a smaller campus.

“I want to enjoy a completely different culture, and communicate with and make American friends,” he said.

While the C of I has direct exchange programs set up with partner schools in Morocco, Sweden, Ireland and China—and has sent students to some of those institutions—this is the first time the College has received students as part the agreements.

“It’s the start of something new, and I think it’s great,” said Jennifer Riddle, assistant dean for academic support and experiential learning. “This agreement gives our students another option when they want to study away and allows exchange students to experience life at the C of I.”

And so far, all three exchange students have enjoyed their time at the College. After arriving on campus in August, they settled into their rooms and joined in on the first-year McCall Wilderness Experience.  

The students are adjusting to the weather—a little cold for their taste—as well as the western education system. In China, the norm is to take about 15 classes per semester, with little homework being assigned. Now, they’re each taking four classes—everything from French and Spanish to Business and Psychology—with a lot more work outside the classroom.

“In China, the way we study is totally different—it’s the opposite of here,” Xinyi said. “Here, they push you to study and you have to study with the small class sizes. I think that’s a good thing.”

For Tin, the difference in education styles has been an easy adjustment. The hardest part is getting used to American food.

“It’s quite different than in China,” he said. “Everything is cold and fried. We usually eat something hot and delicious.”

But they’ve transitioned to life at C of I well, getting involved in the International Student Organization, going to football games, BBQs and other campus events. They’re particularly looking forward to experiencing Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas in the U.S.—it’s the reason why they chose to come to the C of I this semester. But most importantly, the campus community has made them feel like a welcome addition the YoteFam.

“I’m really impressed by the professors and students here,” Xinyi said. “They’re so kind to international students. They make us feel very welcomed and like there is no difference between us and the rest of the students.”

For more information on study away opportunities, visit Jennifer Riddle in the PEAK Center, or click here.

The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit