College life in America can be intimidating for everyone. But if you’re an international student, it gets even more difficult. Remember that you’re not alone. By following a few tips, you’ll start feeling right at home in no time and enjoying the experience that drew you toward the U.S.
Look for Supportive Resources
Many universities have offices for international students, and they offer more than just fun hangouts. This is your first point of contact at school, and it can become a home away from home. If you don’t know where to direct your questions, this office is your place to start. It’s staffed with professionals who will advise you. Many international offices also offer services designed to give you a network of support. For instance, you might need medicine, help writing a paper, or just someone to talk to if you’re lonely. If you don’t know where to go, your international office can point you in the right direction. Plan to visit other resources as well, including:
- Student health center
- Housing services
- Legal services
- Counseling services
- Campus police
- Writing center
- Tutoring services
Another resource that can help you is private student loans. Between tuition and travel to the United States, not to mention living expenses, college can cost a good chunk of change. But with private loans, you can cover your expenses and live comfortably.
Take Notes and Network
This is a great opportunity to learn about another culture. Of course, it also allows you to teach others about your culture and life back home. Take opportunities that let you meet new people and broaden your horizons. It’s easy to spend time with people from your country but try to go to events with American students too. Don’t be afraid to get involved in student-run organizations. Meeting people from the U.S. doesn’t have to be scary. You bring a unique perspective to the table that other students don’t have. Practice giving a short introduction of yourself if you’re nervous about talking to strangers. That can make things a little easier.
You Don’t Have to Know Everything
If you don’t understand something, it’s okay to ask for clarification, whether you’re in or out of the classroom. This is a time for exploring and learning with your fellow students. Remember that many other students are probably living away from home for the first time too. You’ll spend the rest of your life thinking about this unique experience, so don’t leave room for any regrets later.
Understand How Universities Work
Knowing about the school’s structure will help you feel like part of the community. Research the vocabulary, structure, and expectations in American academia. Look up titles to understand who to turn to if you have problems. The syllabus will tell you how your grade is calculated. Getting a high grade on a test does not necessarily mean you will pass the class. Attendance, projects, and class participation can all play a role in your grade. While academic work can be challenging, staying on top of it can help you do well in your classes.