Adjustment Tips for International Students
International students flock to the USA. There will be literally hundreds of things you’ll experience as an ESL international student studying abroad that will be new and surprising, but here are the most common, and some tips on how to cope.
International Students: how to make the transition easier
1. Difficulty Connecting
It may take awhile to make friends, and feel as though you belong. Doing your research about the town will be helpful, and reading the blogs will give you a bit of a leg up. You can find out which are the popular hangouts for students, and “chat” with the blog writer about his or her own experiences.
Joining a study group for classes will throw you into a social situation. As with speaking and learning English you have to put yourself out there. Don’t isolate, or speak only with ESL students from your own culture. If it’s hard for you to initiate conversations think about joining a sports team, or campus club.
2. Geographic Surprise
The geography of the US is extremely varied. Bounded by two oceans, framed by mountain ranges, with vast plains in the middle, and deserts in the Southwest. America is A LOT of every kind of geography. Depending on where you’re coming from you could be in for a 180 in seasonal weather. Knowing what the geography, and weather are going to be will help you decide what to pack, and what you may need to purchase once you arrive.
3. Academic Culture Shock
The culture of American classrooms will be different from what you’ve experienced at home. American professors expect participation in class; it’s usually a healthy portion of your grade. Being on time is important too; it’s not only considered disrespectful to enter a class late, but you may also be penalized, or as I discovered, locked out, and given a full absent. Keeping up with assignments and reading is important. If you feel yourself falling behind—say something! Professors will be able to guide you to tutors, or study groups.
You’ll make mistakes; let’s get that out of the way right now. Don’t expect to get everything right, or be completely prepared. As an ESL international student studying abroad in the US you’re diving from the high board into unknown waters. Be as ready as you can be, but take a deep breath, and jump in.