Settling in as an International Student – How to Feel at Home

Settling in as an International Student - How to Feel at Home

Moving away from home can be scary. Especially when you don’t know anyone in your new country. As a student, studying abroad opens up a lot of opportunities and rich experiences. And you’re probably bursting with excitement and looking forward to life by yourself. But take heed, you’ll most likely feel homesick. That’s completely okay and expected.

Two of the common problems faced by international students in the U.S. are cultural shock and language differences. American culture is very self-reliant. Few parents take care of their children after they turn 18. The social life, relationships, and food are also a completely different scene here. Language is another big problem for those who have moved here from non-English speaking countries. Even if you are an expert at English, the accent and the conventions might take some time to get used to.

Settling into a new country is easier for some and not so easy for others. We would all like to carry a little piece of home with us for some extra comfort. Read on to know how you can make settling in a fun and easy experience.

Decorate Your Living Space

Your dorm/room is where you will be spending a lot of your time. So, it is essential that you are comfortable and feel at home. There is a lot of cheap decor and furniture available to make things more inviting in your room. Have items that are both functional and decorative. For example, a chalkboard display that you can write your schedule on. It is also a good idea to have pictures of your loved ones displayed. This will help make the tough moments and pangs of homesickness easier.

Learn to Make Your Favorite Meal

For most, your mom’s cooking will be your comfort food. Unfortunately, these cravings will not be satisfied anytime soon. So, it’s a good idea to learn how to cook your favorite meal from the expert themself. Learn the basics, so you can whip up a quick meal when you want an extra bit of home.


Ask any student what their most valuable part of college was. Odds are they’ll say the friendships that they’ve gained. Your friends have the potential to make or break your life as a student. Make efforts to say hello to people. The worst that could happen is they don’t respond. Here are some more things to keep in mind while you’re out socializing.

Don’t Stick to Cliques

Often, you’ll find yourself making friends with people from the same country as you. Refrain from only doing this. Going a bit out of the comfort zone never hurt anybody. It is a general practice in the U.S. to smile or say ‘hi’ to strangers. It might seem odd at first, especially if you’re from an Asian country. But you’ll soon grow accustomed to the practice.

Get Involved in Campus Activities

Every campus has clubs and activities that you can take part in. Math club? Check. Sports? Check. Knitting? Mostly, check. These activities will also help remove you from the brunt of your coursework. It is nice to wind down doing things you like. These clubs will offer a chance to meet a ton of new people and also learn. Enroll in a couple of clubs and see what you like.

Join A Fraternity/Sorority

Fraternities and sororities are social structures or clubs that exist in western universities. Fraternities are for men, and sororities are for women. Members pledge to a commitment for life, sharing knowledge, values, and friendships. These social organizations give students the opportunity to meet many people, and also challenge you to excel in academics. As an international student, fraternities and sororities pose an excellent opportunity to gain new experiences.

In most cases, there is a stringent recruitment process to join such clubs. You may also need to pay a small fee yearly. This is a fee for all the benefits you gain from the respective clubs, which may include housing.

Research Your State

If you’re smart, you’ve probably already researched to the area you plan to live in. But here are some important things to keep in mind while researching.

Terrain and Temperature

It is important to know what kind of climate your state experiences. This will help you pack essentials. It can also decide what kind of activities you can look forward to.


Every state in the U.S. has its own culture, and the locals are usually very involved. Research if your state has any traditions so you can prepare yourself. State fairs and conventions are the norms, and they also make for great experiences.  

Cost of Living

As with most other places, the cost of living changes from state to state, and even from city to city. It is wise to research this way in advance to help set budgets for yourself.

Explore the Area

Being such a big country, the U.S. has a lot of state and national parks. These make for fabulous hiking trails. College towns are abuzz with energy and offer numerous cultural attractions for students. You can usually find a different restaurant every time you head out. Don’t stay stuck in your dorm. Even if you have no one to accompany you, venture out by yourself and see what you can find.

Apps That Can Help the Transition

Apps are available for every little thing. There are many apps on both the App Store and the Play Store that are meant to help international students. One such app is RefMe, which helps you find references for your papers. It is also a good idea to have a video calling app to call back home. A good maps app is also essential for international students. There is also an app that helps users find free Wi-Fi around them. This could come in very handy when you’ve run out of data and have a submission left.

The best part about moving is the experience you gain from being independent. Focusing on the positives will go a long way in making the move easy.

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