Going off to college is nerve-wrecking for students who are only a few hours away from their hometown. As an international student, you’re not only away from home, but you’re also forced to get acclimated to a whole new country.
Here are some ways to start feeling like you fit in:
Join a club or campus/local group. There’s probably some groups on-campus for international students, which can be a great way to meet other students who are similar to yourself. You might also want to join a club that relates to your major, or something that interests you. Either way, you’ll meet new people and have the opportunity to make friends.
Embrace your differences. Just because you have an accent or are from a country that many Americans aren’t familiar with doesn’t mean you should feel like an outcast. Be proud of your heritage and be open to sharing your background story with other students. Many students are open to learning new things and meeting all types of people while attending college.
Get out of your dorm room. Attend campus events, go to parties, try some new food, see a movie, or visit other cities close to your school. Although no one will argue that your education should be your top priority, a social life is also vital to staying happy (and sane).
Show off your skills on-campus. If you’re a strong writer, consider getting a gig with the university’s newspaper. If you’re hoping to get your MBA, get involved with business groups and run for a leadership position. If you’re athletic, join a sports team or club. Making your mark is easier than you might think, as long as you’re open to stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Use resources available to you. The international student office on-campus should be a place that you feel comfortable visiting: talk with the staff, and get advice about excelling in school and fitting in on campus. Your professors are also a great resource for this. In fact, many professors were once international students, too!
What other ways are there for international students to quickly get accustomed to American culture?