Living in the USA
Going as a tourist to a foreign city or country for a short period of time can be fun, but living and studying there for longer than a few months is a completely different experience. You get to know the place and the people on a much deeper level. At the same time, you will have to deal with some physical, mental, and social challenges. Even though living in a foreign country can sometimes be frustrating, it can also be very rewarding. The majority of people who live and study in the United States for an extended period of time go home feeling positive about their experience and believe that the time spent abroad was beneficial both academically and personally. The information below may help ease your transition.
Dealing with Differences:
Culture shock is the process of adjusting to a new country and a new culture, which may be dramatically different from your own. You no longer see the familiar signs and faces of home. Climate, food, and landscapes, as well as people and their ways all seem strange to you. Your English may not be as good as you expected. You may suffer, to an unexpected degree, from the pressures of U.S. academic life and the fast pace of life.
If you feel this way, do not panic. Culture shock is a normal reaction. As you become adjusted to U.S. culture and attitudes and begin to know your way around, you will start to adapt to and understand your new surroundings and way of life.
You certainly have heard stories, good or bad, about American people. You also probably have preconceived ideas from having met Americans before or from films and television programs that color your impression of what Americans are and what they do. However, American society is enormously diverse and complex and cannot be reduced only to a few stories or stereotypes. Important differences exist between geographical regions, between rural and urban areas, and between social classes. In addition, the presence of millions of immigrants who came to the United States from all corners of the world with their own culture and values adds even more variety and flavor to American life.
Beginning Your Life in College:
The first few days at your U.S. college or university can be a truly exciting time. There will be many new students on campus like you, all dealing with feelings of anticipation mixed with a certain amount of worry regarding how the first few months of study will go. During those first days, you may find yourself very busy getting organized and settling in. Your priorities may include letting your family at home know that you have arrived safely, becoming familiar with the college campus, meeting new people, deciding on your academic program, and completing all administrative requirements so that your registration and enrollment are in order.
New student orientation programs offer a perfect opportunity to accomplish all of these tasks, to attend campus social events planned especially for new students, and to help ease the transition to a new place.
Despite the excitement, it is not at all unusual for students to feel a certain degree of loneliness, homesickness, or anxiety during their first year. U.S. universities offer many sources of help and counsel, but the responsibility for seeking assistance lies with you, the student. In other words, if you need help, it is up to you to seek it out among the many resources the educational institution offers.
Enjoying Life Outside the Classroom:
Your academic work will be challenging, and you will have to devote lots of time to class preparation, studying, and research. But you will also have a life outside the classroom. Get involved in a club, a cultural activity, or a sport on campus.
Clubs are an excellent way to meet people who share your interests, to make friends, to learn new things, and to have fun. There are student organizations for almost every interest and purpose, from the academic to the purely social. Usually you can get a list of campus clubs and organizations from the International Students Office or from your university's Web page. If you are interested in the activities of a certain club, attend a meeting. If there are many international students at the university, there will undoubtedly be an international club.
You will find many cultural activities on a university campus. Events such as plays, concerts, films, lectures, and art exhibitions are advertised in school publications and on bulletin boards on campus. If the university is located in or near a metropolitan area, you will find many more opportunities advertised in the entertainment and arts section of the
Sports are a favorite pastime in the United States. Many people regularly engage in individual sports, such as tennis, jogging, swimming, and skiing, or in team sports like baseball, soccer, ice hockey, and volleyball. Cities often have organized sports tournaments for amateurs.
Almost all colleges and universities have intercollegiate football, baseball, basketball, swimming, and other teams that compete with teams from other schools. These teams often compete at a very high level and attract a large crowd of student supporters and other fans. Even if you are unfamiliar with U.S. sports, you should attend at least one sporting event. It is a lot of fun simply to be part of the crowd. Ask someone to explain the action to you. The spirit and excitement of the games are a large part of campus life.
Most colleges and universities also offer intramural sporting teams or competitions, where all teams are made up of your fellow students. Intramural sports are usually at a less competitive level than the intercollegiate teams and are often open to anyone with an interest in the sport. This can be a great way to meet people, to exercise, and to help reduce the stress of your studies.
Would you like more information about living and learning in the USA?
You’ll find much more at www.educationusa.state.gov
The content on this page has been excerpted from the EducationUSA website, a web portal sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.For more information, please visitwww.educationusa.state.gov.