5 Things You Don't Want To Do As An International Student
Aug 1, 2014 by Bryanna Davis
Make sure you are as prepared as possible for your time as an international student before classes even start! A good way to do this? Watch and take notes on these 5 things new international students should not do!
Thank you for attending our Kickin it oldschool classroom series, I’m Bryanna Davis with InternationalStudent.com and this is 2 part of our special back to school series. If you’re planning on coming to the US to study you’re more than likely really excited and really scared- and that’s good. You should be both! But, keep in mind that the more you’re prepared, the less scary your exciting journey will be. After all, you’re studying in another country- it’s hard work to get there and requires you to be at your utmost game both while preparing for the trip and during. Take a few moments to watch this video and part 1, it will give you a few ways to prepare for your time abroad and in return make you less scared, and even more excited!
1. Don’t try to “wing it”
The first thing we want to remind international students to not do- is disregard important messages. Thinking you will “find your way” when you arrive or that you’ll just “wing it” is not going to result in an easy transition to your new school. As we just mentioned, to be as successful as possible, you need to be prepared. Your school abroad will more than likely be emailing or mailing you info before you even leave and they’ll be sending you some important stuff so make sure you pay attention to those messages! A few items that they will send to you is information on class enrollment, airport pick up, documents you need to bring, necessary immunizations/checkups you must have before arrival, housing information and insurance.
2. Don’t fill your suitcase with paper!
As an international student, the third thing you don't want to forget to do is back up important documents! There are so many convenient options when it comes to storing and bringing your documents along with you without having to bring stacks upon stacks of paper. Download a program like dropbox onto your computer and put all of your important you’ll need onto it before you leave. Having a program like dropbox also means that if you forget to put an important document on there but don’t realize it until you’ve already gone, you can share access to your dropbox and ask a friend or family member to put it on there for you!
Having an external hard drive is also another way you can tote important documents electronically. It will save you a lot of space and give you peace of mind in the event you lose a hard copy. Speaking of hard copy- while it’s convenient to have electronic options, technology is not always reliable. Because of this I also suggest you bring a hard copy of your key documents including your immunization records, birth certificate, passport and visa, proof of finances, letter of financial aid, your school acceptance letter (just in case), your housing agreement if you’ve already signed one, one original transcript from the school in your home country, testing score documents from tests like the TOEFL, SAT and GMAT.
Also, make sure you also leave one copy with someone in your home country that you trust and is easy to contact. All original documentation should go in your carry on since they are such important documents. You might want to get an envelope or folder and keep them all in one safe place.
3. Don’t forget your body and get insurance BEFORE you come.
Before you even leave home make sure you’re in tip-top health! This means have your doctor’s visits, immunizations and dental check ups taken care of before you embark on your journey as an international student. If you take a certain medication regularly you will also want to explain to your doctor that you’ll be abroad for the year and see if they can prescribe you a prescription to last a little bit longer. With some medications they might be able to even prescribe the entire first year.
When it comes to insurance, your school might require you to purchase the school insurance plan, they might allow you to find a plan as long as it meets certain requirements they have in place, or they might allow you to pick whatever plan you’d like. In any instance, you’ll want to ensure you buy a plan before you leave your home country. Having an insurance plan is important to meet school requirements so you can enroll in your classes on time- but also to make sure you’re protected. Unfortunately you can become sick or injured at any time, including the first day or even hour you arrive! Because of this you will want to have a plan that is in full effect starting the moment you leave your home country.
Now, before you buy just any plan, make sure you check with your school and see what insurance they want to you to have. If they don’t have strict requirements this means you can choose a plan that has the benefits you want and will fit into your budget.
4. You’re smart- don’t pack like you’re not!
The fourth thing you don’t want to do as an international student is not pack smart. Packing smart means doing your research on what you will need, then packing those items! If you’re heading to a state that experiences all four seasons you’ll need clothes for all four season. Don’t think that you can try to “tough it out” during one of the seasons because that will only lead to you having to spend more money while in the US. If you’re studying in a state that has extreme winters make sure you pack a heavy winter coat. A good winter coat can be costly in the US so bring a coat if you’re going somewhere that gets really cold. Now if you want to buy all new clothes once you arrive that is an option- just make sure you have the budget for it.
When you pack also keep in mind that you will accumulate a lot of new items during your studies. Only bring what you truly need so you have room to bring back new items when you go home. For those of you who have purchased space savers, the plastic bags that you can airvac that’s a great idea. But, keep in mind that there is a weight limit along with a dimension limit. Don’t let the space saver bags trick you into thinking you can pack more than what you can! Weigh your bags before you head to the airport so you don’t have to unpack any items last minute to meet a weight limit.
5. Don’t skip small gestures- they can go a long way.
When packing make sure you bring a few small gifts! These can be small items like candy, but make sure that they are something original from your country. This will give the gift recipient a little taste of your home country and start your relationship off on the right foot. Some great people to gift these to include your roommate or host family, your advisors and maybe even a few of your professors!
These five items are a few good things to start with when it comes to what not to do as an international student. As mentioned previously, if you missed part one don’t forget to watch it and see what 5 things you SHOULD do as a new international student. Best of luck and happy studies!