So you’ve successfully jumped the hoops of the application process and landed on your feet in a university in the U.S. This makes you one of the nearly 975,000 international students enrolled to study in the U.S.
One of the good things about studying abroad is the opportunity to broaden your cultural understanding and develop new perspectives. This exposure allows you to grow as an individual and also gives you an edge professionally.
Centers that place students in U.S. universities often give you an overview of the academic opportunities, scholarships, and the kinds of courses that you can take.
So what’s next as you join an American college as an international student?
#1 Managing Expenses
Your scholarship, if you’ve bagged one, may cover certain expenses like school tuition. But you will also need to factor in the cost of living, like housing, food, transportation and other emergencies. You can manage expenses by taking up a part-time job like tutoring students.
Some universities and programs have the option of work and study, which will allow you to work at the university while pursuing a program there. This helps because students’ F1 visas may not allow you to hold jobs off campus in the first year.
On-campus jobs can help you get a social security card. You can then go on to get a driver’s license and open a bank account. Getting a phone and an affordable plan should also be on top of your list so that you are connected.
#2 The American Way of Life
Universities have an international student center where you are taken through things that are essentially American, from culture to safety. For instance, the International Student Support Center at NYU is a platform for intercultural discussions and academic support.
Orientation programs in culture may cover language, holidays, and other things like tipping in restaurants.
It is important to safeguard your documents like passport and visa, and understand what your visa allows you to do and not do during your academic year and once you complete your program. This is to avoid deportation and other immigration hassles.
You usually have campus police to make it safe for you to move around campus though it is recommended that you go in pairs or in groups if you are out at night. They can also escort you if necessary.
#3 Making Friends
A great way to meet people and settle into campus life is to join clubs and participate in extracurricular activities and campus events.
Short breaks like Thanksgiving can be a good opportunity for you to get out and explore new places and experience a broader spectrum of life. Study groups and class projects give you the chance to interact with your classmates, and maybe make a few great friends.
It will take some time to get used to the cultural differences but with some effort, you’ll get there by not falling into trap of stereotyping, by asking questions, and by participating.
By staying on top of your academics, without losing sight of opportunities to experience a new country and not overlooking play, you can make the most of your time as an international student.