No student has the same experience, even in the same school. Challenge yourself to not fall into the trap of stereotyping people, and accept that at times, things might be tough! There will be an adjustment period, but that will be different for every student. Culture shock is real, and expect that you will make it through the troughs, and be better for it. Academic expectations will be high, and more than anything you should seek to take advantage of the opportunities available to you. With that in mind, what follows are my tips for you as you embark on this new chapter in your life:
1. Build a support network of local teachers, local student friends, and international friends: Spend time getting to know people, learn what their interests are, where they are from, why they chose to study or teach at your school, show interest in them and they will show interest in you. No one can do it alone, and when times get tough or decisions must be made, this network will be invaluable!
2. Get involved!: This is very important to do things beyond your classes and homework. Find at least one activity in your first term on campus to test out, it’s a great way to meet people with common interests or people from different backgrounds than yourself.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions: Everyone is new in your first year of school and others are there to help you adjust and find your classroom or how to print something. Just ask!
4. Meet with your advisor: They will be your guide to ensure you are meeting your academic requirements and will stay on track to graduate. If you have any difficulties later on, it’s best that they get to know you well earlier on.
5. Go to the writing center and tutoring center regularly, even if you don’t think you need help, it always helps!: Universities offer many free (paid with your tuition) resources to help you, find out how to sign up online and go often.
6. Enroll in writing or study skills courses: College-level writing is often a challenge even for American students, so learning through a hands-on writing workshop or seminar and spending time improving your study skills is a good investment of your time.
7. Go to your professor’s office hours: university professors are required to hold office hours, and it is a great way to ask questions and get to know your professor. It may lead to a research or internship opportunity.
8. Do something you’ve never done once a week: College is the time to try new things and push outside your comfort zone. It is easy to get into certain habits and routines, and not change them.
Be bold, study hard, and take advantage of this special opportunity. YOACO- you only attend college once!