Things You Need to Know as an International Student in College

It can be a great experience for you as an international student in college or you could end up feeling that it is not the right fit for me. Even though there are many opportunities you can explore in your own country, there is a reason you decided to step out of your comfort zone. You will need to make adjustments to your own self as you find your place in a new setting—from eating unfamiliar food to managing the distance from home to getting acquainted with different rituals. In order to make the most out of your experience and not regret your choice of college in a different country, I am providing you with some tips.

#1 Talk and Participate

You may shy away from asking a question in class or stating your opinion. However, many colleges, especially in the USA, expect students to participate and share their ideas. If you have a query don’t be afraid to ask amidst class or go up to your professor at the end of the lecture to get answers. Engaging in conversation not only with your professor but also your peers can help you meet new people and realize how helpful everyone really is.

#2 Enroll in Different Classes

As an international student, you may want to stick to classes that pertain to your major. However, it is important to take advantage of a curriculum that offers immense flexibility. Holistic education and fostering well-rounded graduation is the aim of most colleges because of which a wide variety of classes are offered. Use this to delve into topics that you find interesting or will help hone your skills in the future. For instance, in my first semester of college, I took up a criminology class just because I found it to be interesting and had nothing to do with my major. You could also try taking up music or art classes if that is what you are interested in.

#3 Academics are Not Everything

It is important to branch out and step out of your own little bubble. Go to the activities fair hosted by your college and explore the different kind of clubs they have! Clubs and organizations not only help meet new people and network but also build up your resume. Besides this, many clubs provide you with real-life exposure that no class can ever provide. If you don’t want something which is very time consuming, you can choose something with shorter time commitment. It will still help you meet people and provide you with something to do besides just studying. College is all about exploring yourself and finding a good balance in your activities!

#4 Look for Ways to Feel at Home

Yes, you came to a different country to be away from home but that doesn’t mean you won’t feel homesick every now and then. Most colleges have clubs for certain communities to help students remain connected to their culture roots and make them feel at home. For instance, UVA has a club called Bharatiysa Council for international Indian students. They try and celebrate most Indian festivals like Diwali, Holi etc. to help students feel like they belong. If not, there any many other ways to help you feel more at home. You can always plan meals or events with people from different cultures and share it with each other!

#5 Do Not Forget About Your Family Back Home

Make sure you work out a communication plan with your family members. In today’s world, keeping in touch with people living miles away has become very easy. Make use of the resources and stay in touch with your family and friends back home. Try and call them once or twice every week and keep them updated about the ongoings in your life. After all, you will always need a support system back home as well! Catching up with them will also give you a good break from studies.

About the Author: 

Lavanya Agarwal is a sophomore at the University of Virginia. She is planning to major either in Commerce or Economics with a minor in Psychology. At UVA, she is involved with Profit with Purpose, Student Council, Bharatiya Council, and Salsa Club. She loves to explore different places and travel. You can find her on LinkedIn.

Scholarly helps ambitious international students locate the right universities and courses to pursue their education. We provide college credit courses and research papers to students that want to learn more and differentiate themselves. We help students develop and present their best version to their dream university. Our recommendations are based on the student’s field of interest, academic performance, financial resources and career plans. We provide test preparation classes from the best teachers to help improve scores and thus the prospects for admission. We also assist students with their visa and loan applications to reduce the anxiety associated with international education.

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