So you’ve done all the work required and now you’re on your way to the USA as an international student about to start your first day of classes - in another country!
First, it’s okay to freak out a little, maybe a lot.
Sure, you’re adventurous and obviously smart, and you’re able to really focus on learning and constructing a career from numerous work and experiences you will love - that’s what college is supposed to be anyway!
And you want to make friends, lots of friends. And you want to network and make connections; connections which can help you make more friends and even introduce you to mentors and people who can help you on your way up.
And there’s so much to do!!
So how can you give yourself the simplest shot at loving your college experience?
Sit, Walk, Then Run.
You can’t run before you decide to walk, and you simply can’t walk till you sit up and pay attention to where you are and exactly what you doing this very second.
Slowing down life detail by detail is sometimes very beneficial, but you’d be surprised how few people do it regularly.
The best way to get the most out of your time in the USA in college, is actually the single most scientifically proven techniques for getting your brain and body in the best shape possible; simply learn to quiet your mind and relax. Meditation. Praying. Mind Melding together with the Universe…
It’s all the same activity as far as brain waves are concerned. And science shows it offers the same results.
Quickly learn how to do this first and everyday challenges won’t cripple you, and many of them won’t even slow down your progress.
Make As Many Friends As You Can.
Now you’re relaxed enough to listen to the next piece of guidance. The best way to enjoy your college experience is to go out of your way to make lots of friends.
You won’t let all these friends influence your decisions up until you know them pretty well, but having friends a number of areas of your life will be more helpful than you can imagine.
Study friends, breakfast or early morning friends, friends from your classes, friends you meet when you go out to socialize, friends at your part-time job, friends who will tell you about more friends.
And don’t keep your smiling face just for other students; make adult friends of all sorts too - teachers, mentors, and locals nearby. You get the idea.
No matter how shy you feel and how terrified you really are in your new surroundings, smile when you are able and don’t fall into the trap of being too cool for anyone to see that you are open and approachable.
Reach out and talk and ask them about who they are, what they are studying - show a genuine curiosity about them and almost 99% of people will return the favor.
Get Out Of Your Room, Often.
It’s important not just to make friends, but to grow your world as fast as you are expanding your brain in all of your classes.
Don’t fall into the emotional trap of putting so much energy into your studies that you don’t put the equivalent energy into your time off from studying.
- Walk to a new eatery and talk to whoever is working there.
- Try to find new art to see and new ideas to check out for fun.
- Keep up with local papers and events and especially your campus news and events.
- Join a club or a few clubs if you can schedule some time.
- Become involved in organizations, do volunteer work, start a new hobby that takes you outside.
The goal for your first few months is to try and match all the new growth that is occurring in your brain with new experiences and new emotions - that will likely balance your emotional and soulful growth in your first months of college life.
Get A Job.
If your visa allows it, find a part-time job. This helps you connect to others which will improve your English and help minimize the isolation you will certainly be feeling.
There is a ton of research on culture shock and how it can depress people to varying degrees, but did you know it generally wears off and allows you to begin feeling better and more positive in between four to six months?
A job will keep you busy and also provide extra money that is just yours along with giving you experience you can put on your resume when the time comes. You could always put volunteer work on your resume too.
Find Your School's International Program Center.
Nowhere will you feel more welcome than your campus’ International Student/Exchange Program center. Become familiar with the people and students who work in this support services program, and join the international student club.
You may even meet students who speak your native language, and you will definitely meet students who have been on campus longer, and some who have just arrived too.
Talk and ask questions and be sure and tell them about your experience also. Sharing and understanding where you are right now can also help other students going through the same transition challenges you are experiencing.
Enjoy what this student says about asking for help from your professors by stopping by their office during their office hours.
Office hours are amazing, it also helps you to connect more with all of your professors. I'm on a first name basis with all of the professors in my department. Getting to know them also helped me to get a research position with one of them over this past summer. Last year I also took an economics class just for fun and I ended up talking a lot to my professor and he waived a bunch of requirements for me to get into another one of his classes that was typically only for seniors in Economics or Business and it turned out to be really interesting (I didn't even ask for it, he invited me to his class). I'm looking forward to this next year. :)
Keep Up With Your Studies
Not to sound like your parents, or your bratty brother or sister, but you can reduce your already seriously-stressed out college life if you do the work you must do when you need to do it.
Put your studies first and your anxiety will be much more manageable when you’re prepared.
In the event that you are falling behind on your homework, or you don’t understand a lesson, communication with your professors and with the tutoring center at your college are necessary.
Know your way around your library, know your professor’s and their email addresses and hours - it’s up to you now to keep your grades up and sustain your scholarships, etc.
You must find the strength to approach your teachers and get help (tutors are cheap and plentiful on all campuses) if you are falling behind in your studies.
Your family is expecting you to prevail, you’ve proven you can pass the tests and do the work; you owe it to yourself to get help when you need it.
There’s So Much More To Do…
When you feel like you just can’t take it and home seems a whole life away, be gentle with yourself and go back to the first rule: relax.
College is going to feel like it is crawling slowly but you will stop one day and look back and be stunned what you’ve accomplished in a few short months.
Ask any student, from any country in the world, regarding their college experience and they will probably laugh and begin telling stories that may seem impossible to believe, except that you experienced the same things when you went to college or you will be going through examples of the same craziness soon.
It can be an amazing experience that you're going to remember and share for the rest of your life.
Slow down when you must, figure out how to relax, make friends and colleagues, stay prepared and open to new experiences, and your college experience will go by so fast that one day you may consider going back for your graduate degree.