BY MELISSA BURNS
Going to study abroad is an incredible experience that can significantly broaden your horizons and greatly influence your future life. However, being an international student in the USA is not all fun and games – there are many problems ranging from culture shock and language barrier to quite real risks and dangers. If you want your stay in the USA to be fun and instructive, better learn about potential don’ts beforehand.
1. Neglecting to Research the University’s Location before Choosing It
If you don’t check where exactly you are going, you may find yourself facing challenges you are not ready for. Potential problems include difficulties adapting to life on a large campus, not being able to handle the cost of living in the city you go to, having to live in a small town not used to foreigners, not having enough work opportunities and so on. Before you make a choice decide what you need and find out everything you can about your variants.
2. Not Keeping Your Documents in Order or Leaving Them at Home
The United States is very particular about who they want and don’t want to enter the country, hence an enormous amount of forms, documents, permits and other papers that have to be in order if you want to cross the border effortlessly. Long before your departure, you should check your Visa status, ESTA, make sure your passport is valid and that you have a copy of I-109 SEVIS Fee receipt and any other documents that you may need.
3. Keeping to Yourself or Other Students from Your Country
One of the main purposes of living and studying in another country is mingling with people from different cultures. It is especially important if you intend your stay in the USA to help you master English better – if you only talk to people sharing your native language you will never get better at English.
4. Failing to Understand the Nature of Plagiarism and Academic Rules
The concept of plagiarism and rules associated with it can be wildly different in different countries, so make sure you understand what your college’s stance on it is. Talk to your professors on the subject, study the guidelines and don’t be ashamed of asking too many questions – it is much better than getting kicked out of university for breaking rules you didn’t realize were here.
5. Failing to Learn Your Surroundings
One of the first things to do once you arrive and settle down should be exploring the local area – both by going around and through asking the locals. You should find out where everything is situated if there are any dangerous areas to be avoided if there are places where you shouldn’t be after certain hours and so on. Thus you will both know where to go if you need something specific and decrease the likelihood of getting into trouble through your ignorance.
6. Neglecting Your Classes and Orientation
The first few weeks you spend in the new country you are probably going to have a lot of fun meeting new people, making friends and going places, but it doesn’t mean that you should forget that what you’ve come here for is studying. Looking at the locals you may get an impression that they do nothing but socialize and party, but don’t let this impression fool you – Americans believe in getting things done, and even if you don’t see it, they actually work, and professors expect work from you as well. So make sure you go to classes and student orientations religiously and do all the assignments you are given.
Perhaps these tips won’t automatically guarantee you a successful stay in the USA, but following them will certainly help.
Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University. Nowadays she is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Follow her @melissaaburns or contact at firstname.lastname@example.org