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An International Student’s Guide to Adjust Culturally in the US

An International Student’s Guide to Adjust Culturally in the US

The United States of America (USA) has over 2,500 universities, which educate many students, every year. Because of the facilities available, and large number of universities and programs on offer, no wonder it is one of the most preferred places to study. Plenty of students from across the world come here to complete either their bachelor’s or master’s degree. Because of this diversity, the American culture has been enriched by the values of almost all cultures. This diversity helps an international student adjust to the environment, since everyone can find something or the other like his country, for example there are temples, mosques, ethnic restaurants, so that one finds a part of his homeland in the US.


Most universities conduct orientation sessions for new students to help them get acquainted with the new surroundings. International students can always seek help from the admissions office or the international student office at the U.S. University you with to attend.


Many Universities have full time therapists who have been trained to work with International students, to find a solution to the challenges these students might face. To adjust to the new environment, observe things and be prepared to learn, both, inside and outside your classroom. Interact with people, introduce yourself, make friends and discover as much as you can.

We know it is easier said than done, but students are usually more receptive to meeting new people and don’t worry about being snubbed the wrong way by someone. It is ok and it happens to everyone.

In desperate cases, do make full use of the therapist. We understand that it may be considered as taboo back home, but no one thinks like that here. Most Americans at some point in time go through therapy. And after all, it is always better to speak to someone and let your guard down. 


International nights and mixers, where both, foreign and U.S. students are invited, can be a great way to meet new people and learn more about your surroundings. Many times, topics include immigration, academic advisers, computer and library resources, telephone services, public safety, medical services, and banking and transportation options.

Universities also plan trips to local attractions. The Student Activities Centers are the places where you may learn about a lot of different activities and programs, such as the college editorial staff, outdoor clubs, chorus, athletic teams and a lot of other things. You may choose things as per your liking.

Know Yourself

We are not getting philosophical here, but yes, knowing yourself is very important. You should know who you are, what you are comfortable with, how you might react to a situation and how much are you willing to learn. Develop new friendships. It has been found that the International Students like you must be more assertive if a friendship is to develop.

In many places in the US, a simple “hi” is considered very friendly. Americans feel that it is very outgoing and welcoming. These greetings are a social custom which has little to do with friendship. The person may become your friend eventually, but it is important not to misunderstand the nature of your verbal exchange.

Most preferred way to communicate

The easiest and the most preferred way to communicate in the US is through e-mails. However, after the initial conversation, if numbers are exchanged feel free to drop a text. Don’t call anyone unless it is absolutely necessary. A good practice would be to send a text before you call. Make sure you are open to new experiences!


Socialization is one of the most important aspects of your international experience. It is essential for the development of individuals who can participate and function within their societies, as well as for ensuring that a society’s cultural features will be carried on through new generations. Socialization continues throughout an individual’s lifetime, and your experience in studying abroad will challenge you to develop your "people skills" even further.

Now, as Indians we’ve been taught the British English and some of the common words in our vocabulary may be different to the ones used here.

Some rules of thumb on Americans to remember:

Maintain the laws-

Americans are quite strict when it comes to following rules and regulation and laws. It is usually easy to get away with breaking a law in India. Not here. Even speeding will get you a ticket and you’ll have to pay the fine for it. You can’t just bribe a police officer. In fact trying to do so will get you in a bigger trouble.

So, don't be late for class. Don't be with assignment submissions. Submit all documents, and do not ask for direct, indirect, or special offers-because it is likely that they will not give you. When speaking with lecturers, call them professor — unless they specifically ask you to call them by their own names. Write your emails in an official and orderly manner.

Politics: Americans are very patriotic. You can probably understand by looking at the number of buildings and homes here that have a flag outside it. However, there can be times when they might be criticizing their government or the country. Don’t take it as an invitation to bash America. It does not go down well with them. The same way you won’t appreciate an American speaking ill of India. Try to stay away from Political discussions initially until you are comfortable in your surrounding and know that your comment or opinion will be understood.

Don’t confuse Politeness to Friendship: Americans are usually quite polite. They’ll smile at you and greet you. This doesn’t mean that they are your friend. They are like this to everyone. Avoid embarrassing situations, especially with lecturers or teaching assistants, and try to learn the subtleties between politeness and a real friendship.


Be very punctual. Don't be late-not for class, not for meetings, not for dating.

26 Saved
Sherk· Aug 30, 20:10
This is very helpful! Thank you
Aashish· Dec 25, 05:44
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