Getting ready to go to college is a big transition, but getting ready to go to college in another country? That’s an even bigger transition. Studying for four years in another country is an exciting, eye-opening opportunity. Before you arrive on campus, you can start preparing for life in the U.S. with these 5 simple and fun tips:
1. Get a head start on American culture with TV, movies and music. To lessen the culture shock when you arrive, you can start to assimilate yourself into U.S. culture with the most popular TV shows, movies and music. While all American media isn’t a good indicator of what to expect, catching up on the entertainment culture will give you talking points in conversations and open doors to meet new friends. Catch up on some of the most popular shows like “The Big Bang Theory,” “The Walking Dead,” “Modern Family” and “The Voice.” Watch classic American movies like “Star Wars,” “Casablanca” and “The Shawshank Redemption” along with some of the highest grossing films in recent years like “The Avengers,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Hunger Games.” Listen to the latest popular American songs from artists including Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Kanye West and more.
2. Know what holidays and traditions to expect. Participating in traditions and celebrating holidays is a great way to learn about culture and customs. Research major American holidays and how each is celebrated. The most widely celebrated holidays are Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day. Your university will be closed on these holidays, so you can take the opportunity to celebrate with your closest friends and their families. Some universities do remain open during these holidays for international students.
3. Plan how to have a social life and meet friends. Meeting friends and having a social life is a big part of college. Start by connecting with your roommate and other students in your class on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites. Check your university orientation schedule for social events and gatherings that you can attend. Research your university and its surrounding area to find out where students like to hang out.
4. Prepare to live with a roommate. If you’ve never lived with a roommate, the transition may be difficult – but your roommate could end up being one of your best friends. Learning how to live with your roommate early on is the best way to prevent problems down the road. Establish open communication patterns from the start, be willing to compromise and cater to their habits and quirks – and so they can cater to yours, spend plenty of time outside of the room and learn as much as you can from your roommate about American culture.
5. Have a plan for safety, money and transportation. Before you arrive on campus, be sure you’ve purchased international student health insurance so that you’re covered in case of an emergency. Be aware of crime statistics for the area, which places to avoid and what your university’s emergency protocol is. Plan for how to get around the city where your campus is located. Research public transportation or the necessary steps for getting a U.S. driver’s license. Have a monthly budget that takes into account unexpected expenses, and look into the process for getting a part-time job or work/study job while you’re on campus.
With preparation and research, you can start enjoying life in U.S. as soon as you arrive. Once you’re prepared, you’ll start to feel more excited to experience everything you’ve been reading, listening to or watching. Just remember that the transition takes time, but the journey can be the best part.