As an international student, adapting to a new culture can seem like a daunting task. Initially, there will be culture shock as you’re getting acclimated to the country and new social norms. Here are some tips to consider before studying abroad in the United States to ensure that you are properly prepared for your transition.
- Practice Speaking English
Attending English and culture clubs will help you become more comfortable speaking English with English speakers and American locals in your country. Many clubs are free to join and may be found on Meetup. There are also various apps you can download that can help you practice speaking, reading, and writing English.
- Classroom Culture
In terms of class interaction and student behavior, American classes are very laid-back. Don’t be startled if your professor teaches from his or her desk, if students dress casually, or if people eat snacks in class. Students can sometimes speak freely without raising their hands.
However, the level of informality varies by professor. While college classrooms are generally informal, some professors have regulations that are exclusive to their subject.
- Connect with Students at Your Future School on Social Media
Joining Facebook groups and other social media might help you feel more connected to your prospective school and new home. Look for student groups and organizations that interest you on the website of your new school. Connect to one or two of your favorite clubs’ social media sites after you’ve chosen one or two to join. If these aren’t available, look for student groups that are specialized to your university or region.
You can start new friendships with those who share your interests by introducing yourself online and following the group’s updates. You can also learn about upcoming activities in your destination city. You’ll have a better awareness of your surroundings and more discussion subjects to choose from when you start university.
- Take a Trip Before You Go
Consider visiting the United States before deciding to study abroad if you have the opportunity. International students that visit America for holidays, attend a U.S. high school, or participate in short-term programs have a unique opportunity to learn about the country’s culture and educational systems.
Many international students who attend summer or winter camps will be able to determine whether or not an American school is a good fit for their academic objectives. Because of their earlier experiences, these pupils are better prepared for language, cultural, and academic difficulties.
- Get Your Finances in Order
Make sure you have an online bank account if you don’t already have one. It’s the simplest method to keep track of your money while traveling. To obtain cash in the local currency, most international travelers utilize their ATM/debit or credit cards. Also, notify your bank and credit card firms that you will be traveling abroad. Your present bank and credit card companies will need to be informed of your plans to study abroad. Otherwise, you risk losing access to your account while traveling (they might flag it as fraud).
If you haven’t already and need assistance paying for your education, look into international student loan lenders to help fund your studies.
- Register your trip with the local U.S. Embassy
Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program of the US Department of State online (STEP). It’s a free service that allows your local US Embassy to contact you in the event of an emergency and provide you information on safety in your host country. It takes five minutes to sign up. Again, I hope you never need it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Pack Smart
Make sure you check your airline’s luggage regulations before packing! Also, utilize travel-sized toiletries to minimize space (you can always buy the regular sized once you get there).
Most importantly, remember to have fun! Studying abroad is a very exciting time in your life and shouldn’t come with unnecessary stress.