Top 8 tips for studying abroad in the U.S.
- Know Your Personality and Find a Balance
It is essential that you know what kind of person you are before you go to study in another country. While some people think that extroverted people might be easier and quicker to adapt to a new environment than introverted people, it does not matter too much whether you are extroverted or introverted. What really matters is how to overcome challenges and how to cope with hard times, especially when you are alone without your family and friends. In order to gain a rewarding study abroad experience, you need to find a balance in your life. For example, have a plan in your mind on how to balance academic work and extracurricular activities, etc. Last but not least, talk to yourself whenever is needed. Ask yourself before you go to sleep what I did today, what I need, or anything that makes you feel comfortable.
- Be Open Minded and Learn from the People Around You
In order to know yourself better, you might try out new things and learn from the people around you. Get more exposure to people who are different from you. Don’t limit your perspective merely on your judgment. For example, if you were a Chinese international student, you might find a “Free Hug” sign is strange and would not accept it. However, some Americans might be offended by this reaction and think you are rude. This is very relevant because you encounter different cultures during you study abroad experience.
- Know what you are looking for in your major
While most of studies are internationally recognized, some do not. For instance, if you study law in the US and want to go back to your own country after you graduate, you might consider whether what you’ve learned and the policies in these two countries are compatible or not. Before deciding to choose your major, you might ask yourself whether you want to work in your country or find a job in the US after you finish your studies.
- Know the Culture
It is always beneficial for you to know the culture of another country before you go. For example, watch football or basketball even if you do not play them. Talking about sports in the US is an icebreaker in a conversation and may also help you get involved with your American peers.
- Learn to be independent
Studying abroad may be the first time you travel far away from your home and leave your parents and friends for a long time. Your parents could help you whenever you need when you are with them. However, in a foreign country, you have to do most of the things by yourself, such as moving your stuff to a new apartment, taking care of yourself while you are sick, and etc. Homesickness is common especially during a holiday or a festival, but do not let homesickness be your burden and prohibit you from looking forward. To cope with homesickness, like what I did the first time I came to the US, I talked a lot to my counselor and set up some meetings with her. After a week, I felt better and could focus on my studies. Also, try to make new friends during your lunchtime or dinnertime, get more involved with your studies, and find a hobby through playing sports or music, etc.
- Be Yourself and Don’t Assimilate
While this topic is controversial, my opinion is that to find an eclectic way in the culture where you come and the culture where you are. It is unnecessary to force yourself to be Americanized and forget your own cultural root. Rather, be yourself and don’t assimilate. Challenge yourself anyhow and tell your American peers that you are equally good. We are no different.
- Language is not a Barrier
While you might concern, “My English is not fluent”, “I cannot write well in English”, “I feel difficult to understand lectures in English”, how could I resolve these difficulties? Here are some suggestions:
- Don’t feel embarrassed if your English is not good.
- Say something! – No matter how your accent sounds.
- Don’t feel frustrated if someone said your English is awkward.
- Practice writing in English as much as you can in your journal.
- Learn cultural idioms and jokes. See more on this page: wspucla.wordpress.com
- Be proud of your study abroad experience since not many get the opportunity. You are at least a bilingual speaker!
- Have a Dream and Focus on the Present
Many people have great ambitions and expectations before they study abroad. However, after they experience the reality of studying abroad, they may find that there is a huge gap between their expectations and reality. Although it sounds somehow disappointing, still many people gain a fuller experience of studying abroad. Your thoughts and your dream might change with the influence of the cultural differences, your immediate circle, and the time you spend with yourself when you are alone. Focus on the present, adjust your changes, and embrace your dream to support you during hard times.
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