- Balance studying with social experiences
- Don’t restrict yourself to the campus, explore the country as much as you can
- Take care of your health
In 2018, the number of international students enrolled in colleges and universities in the USA exceeded 1 million. While international students pay a lot of attention to their finances and grades, other aspects are often overlooked.
These mistakes can affect your overall college experience. Here are the top 10 common mistakes international students make in the USA and tips to correct them.
1. Not Paying Enough Attention To English
Americans speak in English and hence most classes are conducted in this language as well. All students must pass the IELTS to get a student visa but passing this exam does not guarantee proficiency over spoken English.
Practice reading, writing and speaking English as much as possible. The best way to do this is by conversing in English. Be open to corrections and criticism and make an effort to correct your diction and accent. Watching American series or TV shows can also be helpful.
2. Missing Orientation
Every college session starts with a week of orientation. Classes are usually not held during this week and students are instead given time to explore the campus, its facilities and interact with other students.
3. Making Friends Only With People From Their Own Country
Given the diversity of students in American colleges, making friends can be a daunting experience. There will probably be more students from your home country and these students tend to flock together.
Many international students skip orientation and join the campus just before classes begin. This may give you more time at home but skipping orientation makes international student lose out on the opportunity to make friends.
While it is comforting to know that there are other students on campus wo understand the nuances of your culture, limiting yourself to such a social circle can keep you from having a complete college experience.
Instead, step out of your comfort circle and make an effort to meet people from different backgrounds. You will get to learn a lot more about world culture and expand your horizons.
4. Not Participating In Social Activities
Studying abroad is an expensive pursuit and so yes, academics should be given first priority. This does not mean that international students should forgo all social activities.
Even if you are on a scholarship and need to maintain a certain grade level, you should find time to participate in group activities outside class. This helps students build relationships with students from other countries and makes the college experience more rounded.
5. Limitting Yourself To The Campus
While in the USA, students should take every opportunity available to explore the city they live in and the neighboring places. Most international students are unable to go home for every holiday.
Hence, these short holidays are the ideal time to travel within the USA. See landmarks and tourist sites nearby, hike through nature and immerse yourself in American culture.
6.Getting Into A Relationship
For many international students, moving abroad to study is the first time they get to live independently. This can make a number of students jump into relationships.
In any cases, these relationships prove to be a big mistake. Maintaining a relationship takes a lot of time and effort- time that could have been better spent making friends and participating in group activities.
7. Having Unrealistic Expectations
Everyone has certain expectations from what their college life and life in America will be like. As a student travelling to a foreign country, you should make sure that your expectations are reasonable.
You should also not set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Set targets that are achievable. For example, you may have been a topper in school but in college grading is much harder. So, don’t beat yourself up if you do not top the first exam.
8. Not Asking Questions
American citizens have a reputation of being independent. However, you do not have to prove that you are capable of doing things on your own all the time. The fact that you have travelled away from your family and comfort circle to study in an American college is proof enough.
So, when you need to find out something, ask the people around you. If you need help, ask for it. This will save you a lot of time and effort and help you practice the language. What’s more, it’ll help you make friends too.
9. Not Looking After Your Health
College schedules can be quite packed and many students don’t take the time out to look after their health. Many students get excited seeing all the different types of food available and pick unhealthy options over healthy options more frequently.
Keeping pace with everything college has to offer can wear you out physically and mentally. Even if you have a health insurance policy, many aspects of treatment in the USA can be very expensive. So, try to maintain a balance in your life and fit in some form of physical exercise into your daily routine.
10. Always Have Backup Plans
In college and in life, sometimes, even the best made plans can fail. Hence, it is important to be ready for the unexpected and be flexible. When you make plans, think of all the things that could go wrong with it and plan contingencies as well.
You should always make a Plan B. If even that does not work, go with the flow of things and try to not remain stuck in that situation. Above all, do not let one bad experience ruin your whole trip.