International Student: Surviving Your Freshman Year
August has arrived and your final items have been packed into your bag as you say goodbye to your family, friends and country for some time to pursue a college education and sporting career. For many international students the overwhelming feeling of living in another country can be sometimes ignored until you actually start your college career.
Despite the challenges of moving to another country for college, the number of international students on college campuses is progressively growing. According to an annual survey conducted by the Institute of International Education, the number of students studying in the USA has increased for seven consecutive years. There are currently 40% more international students studying in USA colleges and universities than ten years ago.
With the growing number of international students on USA campuses, it is possible that your time in college will be the first time you will meet an international student. How can you ease the transition for students from abroad? Below are some tips that will help ease your college transition.
Get to Know Your Roommate:
The idea of living with a stranger is stressful for most enrolling freshmen. Living with someone who does not share your cultural background can add to the apprehension. Remember, your future roommate is likely as nervous as you are to start this new adventure. To establish your connection early, reach out to your roommate in advance of your arrival to campus.
Understand the Classroom Dynamic:
The learning style of the American education system is often unfamiliar to international students., especially in your freshman year. Your professors can assist you in understanding the give and take of a class discussion and what is expected of students. For example, many professors consider class participation when calculating a final grade. Additionally, building relationships with faculty could open doors for academic experiences beyond the classroom, like research, and assist in developing your network leading to future employment opportunities.
Make Use of Campus Resources:
Many students don’t ask for help even when they know they need it. You may think that asking for help is admitting defeat or a sign of failure. On college campuses, there is no stigma attached to seeking assistance, and these services are free of charge to students. College campuses have a wealth of services to support student success, from peer tutoring to language support to counseling services.
Get Involved in Campus Activities: You may think that academics and your sport should be your sole focus as a freshman. While studying and establishing a solid academic foundation is very important, much of college life happens outside the classroom. Making friends and creating a social network can alleviate stress, ease homesickness, and allow for balance in your life. Getting involved is essential to a successful freshman year.
To make the most out of your first-year experience, add these items to your to-do list for when you arrive on campus.
Attend International Student Orientation:
While Freshman Orientation is required for all incoming first-year students, many colleges offer a separate, and sometimes optional, international student orientation. These programs aim to provide a deep dive on what it means to study in the United States by fostering the skills necessary to succeed and highlighting available resources to help you navigate any challenges ahead. Don’t miss out on this opportunity. You’ll meet other international students and learn valuable information that will serve you throughout your undergraduate experience.
Visit the International Student Advising Office:
Also known on many college campuses as the Office of International Students and Scholars, this office can provide services including, but not limited to, immigration administration support and on-and off-campus employment advising. This office most often coordinates the International Student Association.
Living and learning in a foreign culture can seem daunting. However, being proactive in thinking about what’s to come and using the resources available to you, will help make your chosen college a home away from home. Best of luck in your freshman year!
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