Frequently Asked Questions

What is Friends of International Students (FIS)?
Friends of International Students is a non-profit organization comprised of Iowa City residents interested in meeting and helping international students at The University of Iowa. It is a community group that works with the University of Iowa in pairing community members and families with an international student(s) to form new friendships and learn about a different culture.

Who can be an FIS Friend?
Anyone genuinely interested in international exchange is encouraged to apply. “Friends” range in age from students to senior citizens; they are singles, couples and families. Participants come from all walks of life and have all kinds of experiences.

How do I get matched with a Student?
Fill out a Friend Application. FIS tries to match the requests and hobbies of applicants, but be open to the variety of students that come to the University of Iowa. Most are single students; some Friends have found it easier to invite two or more students to an event.

How long does it take to be matched with a Student?
It takes 2-4 weeks to match Friends and Students once an application has been submitted. Please contact your student and arrange a meeting as soon as you have been matched.

What should I do if I can’t connect with my Student?
If you’ve only emailed, please try contacting your Student through a phone call or text. If you still can’t connect with your Student, please contact us.

What is expected of FIS Friends?
• Friends are encouraged to make contact monthly by phone, e-mail or meeting.
• Once matched, together you can decide what to do depending on time and mutual interests.
• Students appreciate invitations to American holiday festivities and meals. Typical activities such as watching a film, making soup or cookies, athletic events, visiting local museums or attending a downtown festival are ways to get to know each other.
• Most students do not have a car so you may need to provide transportation.

What is New Friend Orientation?
An orientation for new FIS Friends is offered each academic semester. During orientation you will be provided more information about FIS, ideas on activities you might do with your student, as well as cross-cultural resources to answer questions that will inevitably arise. You can read a through the orientation packet here.

What will I gain from the experience?
As a Friend, you (and your family) will enjoy the pleasure of getting to know a student who comes from a different background, yet shares the value of cross-cultural friendship. You will have the opportunity to learn about the cultural, religious and political beliefs and personal background of your student in a way that comes only from an ongoing friendship.
Your student will appreciate practicing English conversation and learning about life in the U.S. from you as you offer hospitality and share our culture.
Many Friends continue with their students after the initial academic year and some maintain contact for years.

Does FIS sponsor any events?
Each semester there are FIS sponsored events to which Friends and Students, as well as the broader community, are invited. Become a Facebook Friend to stay current on upcoming events and read our monthly emails for more information. Join us for our kick-off picnic in late August or September.

Do you have any photos from FIS events?