Congratulations! You are either looking at studying in the US or you are already an international student. Deciding to study in America was probably a big decision, one you won’t regret. You are in for a great adventure and you will no doubt experience many new things. Unfortunately, you will probably also suffer from some culture shock. It is important for you to get accustomed to your new environment. Why? Not acclimating can lead to feeling alienated or segregated. Take it from the international students who came before you.
You are not alone. In fact, there are nearly one million international students in the US. Some are in the last years of college and are happy to share their expertise. YouTube is filled with videos of their stories. Each one tells the story of an amazing adventure: the struggles they faced and the rewarding once-in-a-lifetime experience they received while studying in the US. The decision to move to another country was probably the scariest and biggest decision they ever made and that you will ever make. So here is some advice to make this journey easier.
1) Get Involved
The last thing you will want to do is isolate yourself. There are many different ways you can get involved with the student body and the community. Universities and colleges often have many different events that go on throughout the year: from sporting events to cookouts. In addition, there are several different organizations to join, such as fraternities, sororities, clubs, sports teams and various other organizations. These are just the activities on campus. There are several community events and volunteer opportunities to get involved with as well. When attending these events you will need to speak up. The main reason for attending these activities is to meet people and make friends.
2) Connect with American Students
Make as many American friends as possible. Take time to talk to classmates and other students. You can learn so much about US culture from them. US schools have a diverse student body. Students come from all different backgrounds, cities and have different interests. Talking and sharing cultures with them is a great way to expand your understanding of the US culture.
3) Use School Resources
Universities often have departments or centers that are there solely to help international students, whether it be needing help with writing assignments to needing someone to confide in. The international services may also have workshops you can attend to learn more about how to adapt to life in America. Do not be afraid or too proud to ask for help.
4) Experience the Culture
This can sometimes be difficult because it means taking a step outside your comfort zone. However, it is an important step. The advice International students have shared often includes experiencing the culture. You have the opportunity to broaden your knowledge and experience a whole new culture. Not only will you learn about US culture, but you will also see the other cultures that make up the American melting pot.
As mentioned before, you are not alone. If you are feeling homesick or want some support from other international students, see if there is an organization that you can get involved with. Perhaps there is a group of students from the same country you can connect with. However, do not forget to connect with those outside your culture. The new connections and experiences you make will be the key factors in making this new adventure truly amazing.
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Written by: Ashleigh Cue