Sign in to Your Account Done
Forgot account info?

Don't have an Account?

Register Now!

International Student
Study In:

Adjusting to Life as an International Student in the US

Aug 12, 2015, 8:00:00 PM by Bryanna Davis

If you're going to be an international student inside the US this video will provide you with tips on how to adjust in this new culture. See what to expect as an international student and how you can make the transition into your new environment run as smooth as possible.


Thank you for joining our Hangout today on tips for adjusting to life as a new international student inside the US. I’m Bryanna Davis with International Student, you can find us at Before we start, if during the hangout you have questions on adjusting to life in the US, please feel free to use the Q&A feature and we will answer those for you at the end.

Becoming an international student is a lot of work- you have more than likely been planning and trying prepare for your time abroad for about a year. With all the work that’s involved it’s easy to get caught up in the paper work and look into what to expect when you arrive. Because of this, we’re going to give you a few quick tips to keep in mind when trying to adjust to your new life inside the US.

First, let’s talk about inside the class room. Your classes inside the US will be very different than those back home. Inside the US here are a few things that you can expect, that might vary from what your classes in your home country expect: attendance will be taken, participation will matter, you will have essays, papers, group projects, individual projects, reading assignments and tests throughout the semester.

When I studied abroad in Wales, this was a huge adjustment for me. I was used to having all of the previously listed items throughout the semester and that wasn’t the case in Wales. It was much more lecture based and we didn’t have many assignments throughout. At first I thought that I had missed a handout on certain reading assignments and tests throughout the year, but it of course wasn’t the case. It was simply a different education style that I wasn’t used to and had to adjust to. If you feel like you have a class where you’re having trouble keeping up with everything, talk to your professor. They know that you will have this period of adjustment and they can help you work through it. Plus, getting to know your professors is something you should do as an international student anyway. Each professor will have specific office hours, introduce yourself at the beginning of the semester.

Next, if you’re going to have a roommate, this is going to be one of the most exciting and one of the scariest moments of becoming an international student. Your roommate is going to be the person you see the most and that you will have to trust enough to share a small space with- so of course you’re hoping for someone you can get along with and maybe even become friends with! Here are a few tips that might help your roommate relationship go as smooth as possible: bring a small gift from home, this small gift won’t help during a rough patch, but it can help you get off on the right foot, be understanding, your roommate will come from a different upbringing than you, and thus, be different than you. If your roommate has a problem, or issue, try to understand where they’re coming from and be accepting of this. The phrase “pick your battles” will come in handy with your roommate- basically it means don’t start a fight about it unless it’s really important to you, be respectful, sharing a space can be difficult, but showing the kind of respect that you would like to receive can go a long way.

Third on our list, when you meet a new friend for coffee do you give them a kiss on the cheek, maybe one on both cheeks, like back home or do you give them the common US greeting: a handshake? Knowing small social norms like this can cause some stress for you at first during social situations, but the more you have, the more you will become accustom. Plus- don’t stress out too much. More than likely your new US friends will love that you do things different than those in the US.

Common cultural knowledge will be something you pick up along the way. Some things might affect you daily, such as, how to tell if a neighborhood might not be safe to walk alone in. While others just once a year question, like what to wear on Independence Day while inside the US. Fourth, one of the best things that you can do to feel at home on your new campus is to explore. The first day you arrive you’ll be fighting the urge to take a nap, so I would suggest exploring campus - it will be a good way to keep you awake. Before you leave home, print a campus map and bring it with you, or ask your international student office if they have one on hand. Then hit up your campus! If you don’t have a map but you’re feeling really adventurous, just start walking and explore. However, make sure you do so while it’s still day light and don’t wander too far on your first adventure.

Lastly, you have all of these changes around you going on, and you don’t know anyone. Back home you had your friends and family to help you relate to certain situation, but as an international student you more than likely won’t know anyone. Although this can be lonely and difficult at times, it’s important to look at the positive side of not knowing anyone. This can be your chance to have a fresh start and to develop an entirely new set of friends.

If English is not your first language this might make the task of making new friends even more difficult, but don’t let it hold you back. The best way to improve your English is to practice as much as possible. If there’s someone that you would like to speak to and develop a friendship with but you’re waiting for a convenient time, or until your English is a little better, don’t wait! Begin the conversation, improve your English and start making friends from the moment you arrive in the US and this can help ease your fears.

As a new international student inside the US these are a few tips to get you started. However, the more research you do before you leave, the more prepared you will be, and this can help you during your adjustment period. I recommend visiting for even more information on life as a new international student inside the US.

Related Content:

Get the International Student newsletter!