So, you’re here in the United States to complete your studies. Congratulations, you’ve taken the first step. We know you might have thought of everything before coming here. However, there are still some challenges that you might face during your stay as a student here in this country.
Don’t worry. We’re here to help you at every step of the way.
Here are some challenges that you may face and some tips on how to tackle them.
This is one of the biggest challenges that you may face here. No matter how many English TV shows and movies you’ve seen, it won’t prepare you for the “Culture Shock” you might face here. India is a culturally rich country. We have our customs and traditions and so is the case with United States.
The language, accents, holidays, a completely different sporting culture, the customs, way of greeting, smiling, personal space – all of it might just seem very overwhelming at first. But slowly and steadily you’ll fit right in.
Here are some tips and solutions that may help you:
- Be prepared for these challenges – For a Cultural Shock. We know how it sounds. That is no solution. But we really believe that if you are prepared for what is about to come, you will not be hassled when it is actually happening with you.
- Teacher-student relationships are rather informal in the United States- particularly compared to the Asian education system. Get an understanding of how students and teachers interact.
- Be open to making new friends as soon as you can upon arrival. Also look to your fellow study abroad students as a support network and a place to share and learn about common practices in the United States.
- Read about tipping practices in the United States.
- Figure out the different modes of transportation in the US
Let us first acknowledge the fact that studying in US is quite costly. With an approximate fee of 50k USD per year, you are already spending a lot of money. Especially for Indians as the value of Rupee is not so great compared to the US dollar.
Most of us have taken student loans back in India and are already trying to save every penny here. But your tuition fees in not the only cost that you’ll have to take care of. There are other additional costs that you’ll have to bear such as Food, Travel, Rent, Entertainment, Healthcare and other smaller miscellaneous costs.
Here are some tips and suggestions to manage your costs:
- There is a scholarship for nearly every topic of study and minority group. Other scholarships are merit-based (based on high achievement and extracurricular activity) or need-based (applied when an applicant meets certain financial criteria). Some are available for United States citizens only, but many are available for anyone. You can't get the scholarship unless you apply, so talk to your school's financial aid office for scholarships specific to your school and look at an online directory like Fastweb for more options.
- Please have a good health insurance. Healthcare in the US is a bit messed up and you might end up with hefty bills if you don’t have good health insurance. We have a guide for this too.
- Work a part-time job. Some on-campus jobs for students include positions in the school cafeteria, bookstore, library, or gymnasium. While it's unlikely you'll be able to earn enough to pay the majority of your expenses, a part-time job can help cover books, clothing, and personal expenses. Be sure to note U.S. working regulations for international students. You can check out our guide on the same.
Starting out as a new student in a program abroad can feel intimidating and lonely, so try to step out of your comfort zone and get to know as many people as you can while you are getting acquainted with your new home for the duration of your studies.
- Get to know other students in your program who are going through the same social changes. Attend optional meetings and outings and sign up for any weekend trips or excursions.
- Get involved in student groups on campus- volunteer and academic groups are generally a great place to start. Your university should have a listing of all active student groups available.
- Befriend local students, as they can help get you acquainted with the school and introduce you to new friends. Sit next to them in class and offer to partner with them on projects.
- Attend local events. Free apps like Now and Like a Local can zero in on your location to help you find cool spots and happenings nearby.
With so much else going on, it can be easy to focus on everything but your school work, but remember that your academic experience is what brought you to the United States.
While your studies should always come first, this can be a challenge if you discover that U.S. language and classroom expectations are different than in your home country.
Follow these solutions, focus on your studies, and embrace your new culture so you can have an educational and fulfilling experience.
- Talk to the professor. While it may be intimidating to talk to a professor who lectures in front of hundreds of students at a time, his or her job is to teach. Take advantage of office hours if you are unable to stay after class.
- Ask your guidance counsellor for a student mentor's email address and connect with him or her.
- If you are not clear on an assignment, talk to the professor, a teacher's assistant, or another student from your class. In America, study groups are common. Joining a study group for your difficult classes can help you learn better, collaborate with other students, and give you an opportunity to receive a little extra help clarifying assignments and coursework.
Ask most Indians what they miss the most and they’ll say Indian food. Though there’s a lot of Indian food available in most of the cities here in USA, you may not find everything to your liking and may also find it overpriced. Because – Dollars.
The only solution is to learn cooking. Trust us, once you learn how to cook, not only will you start saving a lot of money, but you’ll also add a life skill and you’ll never miss Indian food again anywhere you go.
Understanding Plagiarism and Academic Honor Code
Believe it or not, many times international students are unfamiliar with the term and concept of plagiarism, at least in the way that Americans understand it. Working in groups can be very confusing for international students as they believe they are completing the assignment together but may not understand that they cannot then copy verbatim their classmates work.
Unlike American students who have been told and guided through what plagiarism looks like since grade school, international students are starting with a blank slate.
Perceptions of plagiarism are mostly based on historical and cultural assumptions. Many of the policies and guidelines set for students may not be specific enough for a foreign population. The language barrier can play a role in this situation as well.
Some Solutions and Suggestions:
- Speak with your professors often. Utilize them as a resource from the very beginning. Familiarize yourself with well-known American plagiarism guidelines sites like Purdue Owl Writing Lab.
- Speak with your academic advisers to gain resources provided by the university. The university should be speaking openly early on with international students about plagiarism and the severity of breaking an academic honor code in the states.
Worldwide Influences. No one survey can do justice to the vast sweep of American culture. The United States is a dynamic country, covering the breadth of a continent. Many cultural currents exist and coexist within American life. The sections that follow do not attempt to cover every aspect of American culture, but instead zero in on some phenomena, like television, films and American music, that newcomers can study in order to learn more about American life.
The United States is both an old country and a new country. American values have developed over several centuries, affecting (and often being enriched by) successive waves of immigrants. The trend continues: old ways blending with new ideas. The best way to look at it is to realize that while Americans are often open to new ways of thinking, they have a deep culture, and a deep sense of being American, one that is not always that easy to describe. Those who disagree, who believe the country has no true culture compared to the “older” civilizations of Europe, Asia and elsewhere, do not truly understand the United States.
The United States offers its residents and newcomers alike a bewildering array of goods, from food shopping to baby clothing, and services, from rug cleaning to shoe repair.
For some goods and services, a few large “category killer” chains control the market. This is so in hardware and home improvement goods, as an example. Even in this area, however, smaller entrepreneurs and even “Mom and Pop” operations fill their own particular market niches. Competition for customers brings great variety to the marketplace, which means it is not always easy to choose where or how to acquire a product or arrange for a service.
If you want any product or service in the United States, you will have to do some work to familiarize yourself with the choices. Products and services vary greatly in quality, accessibility, price and suitability. Because America is so free, and because, in many respects, it has an unplanned, market economy, you will have to become an informed consumer to get the greatest value out of the American system.
The term “modern American cuisine” is often stretched to include a panoply of cooking styles and restaurant concepts, but in its narrowest sense it connotes the fusion of traditional European and Asian classic cooking techniques with a stress on high quality, fresh, locally produced, in-season, often organic and healthful foods. One of the pioneers of this style of food preparation and presentation was Alice Waters, who in 1971 founded the Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California.
Modern American cuisine is popular, and hence has spawned many imitators; the best chefs combine crusade-like ingredient activism—supporting local artisanal producers and farms, for example—with a top-level handle on cooking techniques and presentation. It is unfortunately possible to find mediocre, “try-too-hard” examples of this cuisine all over the United States, often in over-priced venues. The simplicity inherent in modern American cuisine is not always easy to obtain. The innovators and dedicated local chefs produce modern American cuisine with imagination and consummate skill; the casual bar/restaurant or hotel dining room that jumps onto this bandwagon often produces little more than a meaningless mash on an over-garnished plate. Whether done properly or not, modern American cuisine tends to be expensive.
Being on a college campus is fun but it’s easy to gain a false sense of security and feeling of safety when surrounded by your peers. After all, they’re just honest students like you, right?
Wrong. It’s important to acknowledge and remember that you don’t always know who you can trust, even when you’re in the college campus bubble. While the threat of danger may not always be your first assumption, it’s important to be prepared should a situation ever present itself. Additionally, there are easy ways to prevent yourself from becoming more vulnerable than necessary or putting yourself into potentially harmful situations. While we certainly hope that these situations won’t arise, it’s always best to be prepared for any given situation, just in case. Whether you’re going to college for the first time or are returning for another year, it’s important to review and remember top safety tips to ensure you’re taking the right precautions. The following college safety tips can help you avoid dangerous situations or help you should you find yourself in a risky situation.
1) Being tech savvy is good, but beware of your surroundings:
Everyone with headphones, a smartphone and an MP3 player knows – the minute you’re plugged in, you barely exist anymore! You stare at your phone, zoned out; not knowing what is going on around you. This is exactly what you should be avoiding. When you start to find yourself becoming unaware of what’s going on around you is the time you need to consider turning the music down, putting your phone away and opening your eyes to what’s happening. The key to getting out of a potentially dangerous situation is to recognize it as such. This is nearly impossible if you aren’t even aware of the situations you’re walking into.
2) Avoid Walking Alone at Night:
Walking around alone and in the dark is basically asking for trouble. Sure, there are times that you need to get from point A to point B which may occur at night, but you should always abide by the buddy system so that, should something happen, you’re not on your own.
3) Locks are there for a reason:
While it’s easy to become relaxed in college life, there are some habits that should always remain standard. Locking your doors, especially when you’re alone or asleep, should be one of them. Aside from allowing yourself to be vulnerable, it’s also much easier for theft to take place if you’re essentially providing easier access to burglars.
4) Carry Some Emergency Cash:
It’s good to have some cash on you at all times, just in case. Perhaps your credit card won’t work or your debit card gets lost. You never want to be stuck in a scary situation because you don’t have the necessary funds to get out of it as quickly as possible.
5) Locate the Emergency System Areas on Campus
Most campuses have emergency call buttons or phones scattered throughout campus for students to utilize in the event of an emergency. Find out what your campuses system is and locate the areas in which the systems are placed. Should you ever find yourself in trouble, it will be much easier if you know where you can call for help.
6) Know your Way Around Campus:
The campuses here are big. Take time to become familiar with campus landmarks and streets so that you are able to navigate your way around – or out of an area, should you need to
7) Always have Emergency Contacts on your phone
If you have a smartphone, program emergency numbers into it. It’s one of the first spots hospitals check if you’re admitted alone because they are able to bypass your pass code in order to access your contacts.
8) Get Dating wise:
Dating is interesting. If you end up dating someone you know from your campus – great. But if you are one of the many who like to find dates through apps, then being cautious is the least you can do. Don’t trust everyone blindly. Don’t reveal too much about yourself in the first date on before it. When selecting a venue for the date, select something that has a good number of people around and don’t set a time that is too late in the evening.
9) Follow Your Intuition:
Sometimes your intuition can be more than accurate. When you notice someone' furtive manner in the dorm, don't be afraid to report it to the dorm security guard. This safety tip for living on campus could eliminate many potential incidents.
And when you feel uncomfortable in certain place, leave right away and go to an area with lights and people. Don't hesitate to call the police for help if something seems really abnormal.