Starting college is a major milestone for any student. It marks the beginning of a thrilling, transformative chapter in life. If you’ll be studying in a new country, let alone an unfamiliar city or state, then you’re probably feeling even more excited and nervous.
In order to help incoming international students with this transition, we asked seasoned international students what advice they would give to new students who are leaving their home countries to study in the United States.
Here are some of the most common responses they gave; we hope their insight will help you prepare for the upcoming fall semester!
1. Make friends from your new school before arriving in the U.S.
It’s true – you can connect with your future classmates before you even arrive at the airport. Deepti, an international student from India, suggests contacting current and new students on Facebook or through your university’s admissions office. It can definitely help knowing at least a few friendly faces during your first few days of college.
2. Packing: Figure out what you should bring and what you can buy.
Packing for an entire semester can be overwhelming. To ease the pain, make a checklist of everything you’ll need. Split your list into categories (such as dorm essentials, clothing, school supplies etc.), and decide which items you have to bring and which ones you can buy once you arrive in the U.S.
Reem from Egypt, a peerTransfer user, had some great insight on packing and shopping for school: “Find out if there are stores nearby your college that sell whatever you need for your new dorm. Flying internationally means that there tends to be a limit on the number and/or the weight of the bags you carry. If your college is near or within a city, you can do a lot of your shopping there. Alternatively, you can go shopping online and have all your new items shipped to your new address. There’s no point in lugging around bedding, linen sets and decor for your room when you can easily purchase it once you land in the US.”
3. Prepare the necessary finances and documents.
Of course, it’s important to have enough money in your account. But have you prepared for unexpected expenses and emergencies? Additionally, make sure you’re carrying enough (but not too much) of the local currency to get you through at least the first couple days. This will help you have a smooth journey to the U.S. At the airport and on your flight, carry your passport and visa with you at all times and make a copy of each to put in your checked luggage. For additional necessary paperwork, check with your school about which documents to carry with you.
And remember, says international student Anastasiya from Russia, “use every opportunity to learn something new.” It’s important to have confidence in yourself, but it’s also okay to ask for help if you need it. Your school’s staff and faculty and fellow international students are all great resources.
For more advice on starting college or adjusting to a new country, check out our post about leaving your home country and culture shock, discover what you need to be prepared for at college, and find out the top ten things international students wish they had known before college.