September 5th, 2013
So, you’re an international student and freshly arrived on the campus of a U.S. college. Welcome! Now that you’re here, it’s understandable that you’re going to find college life daunting. You’re thousands of miles away from home and family and out of your comfort zone. Here are five tips to consider as you start your first semester, which hopefully will help your college experience as an international student in your host country rewarding and memorable.
Orientation – Many colleges will have arranged an international student orientation program before the official start of the semester. The program maybe offered as a lecture over a course of a day, or a few days in length. The orientation day or week is a great opportunity to acclimate to campus life and find your bearings. You’ll be offered information on important matters such as visas statuses, local laws, campus security, campus maps, checklist of things to do before the start of the semester. Orientation week also offer opportunities like mixers and sporting activities to bring the new students together. Make sure you participate in both the practical and fun activities.
Join a club or society – Most colleges will have a club fair at the start of the semester. Walk around and visit each booth, ask questions, and see which activity interests you. It’s not only about the Greek system of fraternities and sororities. If the fraternity or sorority life is not your style, you’ll find many other campus clubs that focus on a specific topic or interest, such as language groups, like the French club, or Spanish club, or musical groups, like the guitar group, or ukulele group, or a cappella singing group. There are also sporting societies and many other extra-curricular organizations. It’s important that you mix your academic calendar with at least one extra-curricular activity to benefit from a full campus experience.
Source: HYPERLINK “http://www.sbcc.edu” www.sbcc.edu
Make Friends outside your comfort zone – It’s easy when you’re an international student to gravitate to students who are from your country of origin. You speak the same language and share the same culture. There’s nothing wrong with this but you need to step out of your comfort zone and initiate conversations with other classmates. Not only will this help improve your command of the English language (if English is not your native tongue) but will also open you up to new cultural experiences. In fact, you will also help open and broaden your new friend’s perspectives on your culture.
Explore a (fun) course – Your major be mechanical engineering, or political science, or computer science, but make sure that you take at least one course that is not related to your major but is interesting and different. It could be a Square dancing or Salsa dancing class, or a course in Sufi meditation, or on the Evolution of Hip Hop, whatever the offerings, add a little variety to your program. Usually, these courses are 1 unit of credit, so you’re not taking a bite out of your regular course schedule.
Off campus – Though a college campus can be a small town of its own and offer a great variety of activities, it’s important that you step out of campus and venture into the local town or city where your college is located. It could be as simple as going to see an exhibition at a museum or gallery, to having dinner, seeing a movie, hiking, camping, or visiting the local farmer’s market. Exploring the local community is vital to your own personal growth and offers you a better perspective of life outside the college campus environment.
It’s easy to get into the routine of going from the dorm, to a class, to the library, back to the dorm, to the cafeteria, and become a couch potato without leaving the campus. Get out of your comfort zone. You’ve come this far to America, go out and explore and discover new things about the country and yourself!
Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc.