Moving abroad and studying in a foreign country can be a daunting experience. We understand the stress of international travel and trying to adjust to life in a foreign country.
Let our college freshman survival guide make it easier for you to fit right into the foreign way of life.
Your Cell Phone and Bank Account
Quite a few international phones are not functional in the U.S. Get an unlocked one as soon as you can, and opt for a local connection if you haven’t already.
You have three options: Get a cell phone with a new SIM card, a prepaid plan for your phone, or a contract plan.
The prepaid plan costs a bit more with a monthly fee and does not require you to give your Social Security Number (SSN). The third option is for two years and needs a SSN or credit check, which might be difficult for you as an international student.
Moving on to your bank account, it is good to have a local bank account. It saves you from paying fees and paying off any credit card dues.
If you depend on your parents’ debit or credit card, that is also good enough. But in the long term, a credit card for yourself is a great investment.
Being apprehensive is understandable. You are not the only one who is afraid. Take advantage of orientations and social events at the beginning of the semester to mingle and to squash your fears.
Seniors are generally friendly, and so are your fellow classmates. Don’t be shy. Be proactive about socializing with people, and make your freshman year worth remembering.
Avoid the biggest mistake Indian students make when they move to the U.S.: forming closed bubbles with other students from their own states or cities from India. Your need for familiarity is understandable. However, strike a balance. Don’t get caught in a tiny bubble of people; it will prevent your cultural sensitization and will take away a ton from your educational experience.
Your Academic Help and Classes
Get to know your professors as early as possible. Review your schedule and make a note of any doubts. They will welcome you during their office hours and help resolve any issues you might run into.
Your professors are there for any minor problems you might face in your semester. But, your academic advisor is the go-to person for any course conflicts.
They are the person who can help you with dropping any courses or choosing your major and minors.
Don’t get swayed by temptation and miss your classes. Save your allotted number of absences for sickness. If you find the temptation to skip classes hard to resist, just calculate how much each class period costs. That should give you enough motivation to make it to class, and on time. Punctuality should be like second nature to you.
Foster a Healthy Relationship with Your Roommate
Believe it or not, this is a big deal-breaker. Befriending your roommate will be beneficial to both of you. Get to know the other students in your residence hall, as well.
It’s a one-of-a-kind experience, sharing a common space with another person. This doesn’t mean you encroach on their personal bubble. Be each other’s cheerleader and a cornerstone during the hectic experience of freshman year.
If you are not living on campus, this of course doesn’t apply to you. Even so, a dependable friend or two will make your freshman year easier.
Live and Let Live
Being inflexible is a big no-no, especially for your relationship with your roommate(s).
There will be clashes and fights, but you have to respect each other’s space. You might even end up agreeing to disagree on every topic. Give them a wide berth and be vocal, assertive but not unkind.
During conflicts, be amicable and talk with the aggrieved. Communication will resolve any misgivings you might have. There will also be situations beyond your control; learn to refrain from meddling.
If you feel like you are sinking, grab onto your friends. They will be your life support during tough times and help you get back on your feet.
Take Advantage of College Resources
Academics are a large part of freshman life. It feels harder as the transition from high school to higher education sets in. Take advantage of all resources at your disposal.
See what works for you. Studying in groups or alone should end up being productive. Laziness will end up being a burden, whether with studies or your social life.
If your dorm isn’t a good refuge for studying, seek out the library or a quiet corner of campus.
It will get overwhelming, and when it does, take a break. Try to have a positive outlook toward everything to make this experience a smoother one.
Watch what you eat
The U.S. is struggling with an active obesity problem, and it would be good if you didn’t join that crowd. Watch what you eat, and try to incorporate physical activity every week.
Even with medical insurance, it tends to be costly to get treated in the U.S. This does not imply that you have to starve to be healthy. Just eat consciously and in ample portions.
Sports and Recreation
This is a great way to keep fit and have fun at the same time. Indulge in the emotions of the game.
You don’t have to be a hardcore sports enthusiast. America prides itself on its diversity on the athletic field; there will be many options.
Moving on from sports, there will be many clubs and groups that encourage personal growth. Join the ones to your liking, and please do stick to a few that don’t overwhelm you in the future.
Most Importantly, Learn to Balance Your Life’s Aspects
You might discover that being a social butterfly is something you excel at. That would be great, but don’t get carried away.
Find a balance between your personal and your social life. Learn to say no. Your grades should not suffer due to your involvement in too many activities.
College is very different from high school. You have to fight for your grades and work extremely hard for them. Limit yourself to a few groups that help you replenish your energy and dispel your homesickness.
Be a Local
It is always a good idea to head out for random activities with a group. This will help you familiarize yourself with the local area and discover great hole-in-the-wall places.
Again, it’s very easy to get deluded by movies showing a lax freshman year. You will find freshman year to be extremely busy. You will have to juggle multiple tasks and be good at time management.
We hope we managed to dispel some fears and addressed much, if not all, of what you wanted to know.
That being said, have your health insurance card on you, and don’t ignore your health. You never know when a mishap might land you in the emergency room. If you have not already purchased international student insurance, Insubuy is a great resource to compare and purchase the right one for you.
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