What's the best way to prepare for living and studying in the
United States? Do your homework and learn as much as you can before
you come. Then be ready to learn a lot the minute you arrive on
One of your most important campus resources is the school's international
student office. These offices typically offer an "International
Student Orientation" program for new students. This is a terrific
resource. As you search for a particular school, make sure the
college or university provides excellent support in this area.
Take Advantage of Orientation Programs
Orientation programs can range from a couple hours to nearly 10
days. You'll not only meet students from around the world. You'll
also learn more about surviving and thriving in the US system.
Typical topics covered include:
- Health care (remember health insurance is typically a school
- Academic expectations
- Cultural adjustments
- Immigration requirements
Additionally, you'll probably receive a campus tour. Be sure
to pay particular attention to important services you may need
later, such as the health services office or the security phones
located around campus.
Your orientation will also include information on academic advising.
This is very important for your future success. The better you
understand the US system, the faster you will succeed. This
session will help you learn more about issues like:
- Classroom expectations
- Student/faculty roles
- Degree requirements
- "Elective" courses
Cultural adjustment issues will be another
key topic during these orientation programs. It's very common
for people studying or living in a new culture to suffer something
Americans call "culture shock."
This means that you will encounter situations that challenge,
excite and frustrate you all at the same time. Things that you
take for granted may be very different in this nation. You may
feel depressed or confused. These feelings are completely normal.
To conquer these fears, learn as much as you can about this new
culture. Orientation programs -- and research before you arrive
in the US -- will go a long way towards helping you adjust quickly
to this exciting new way of life.