What advice would you give to an international student who’s been admitted to a U.S. college?

A friend of mine introduced me to a Bulgarian student who’s been accepted to study Biomedical Engineering at NYU today. We chatted about the U.S. education system, fitting in the college environment, and the expectation from going to school in America. I’d like to share what I had to say about “Your First Year in a US college” at an “International Perspectives: Cross-Cultural Dialogue” series event. Feel free to comment and share your experience.

Fitting in the U.S . college environment:

Orientation is not just for fun! Use the time in your first week in college wisely! Write down names. Go to the administrative offices: Registrar’s, Bursar’s Financial Aid, Student Affairs. After all, it’s better to know these people sooner rather than later. In my case, they got to know me by name fairly quickly.

Challenge yourself. Don’t just take the easy classes to get a 4.0 GPA. Take a mixture of classes. Take the classes with the hard professors.

Visit professors during office hours.  Talk to your professors if you have questions or are having a personal issue. They have office hours for a reason!

Speak up and participate in class.  Most of my classes had a 10 – 20 % class participation grade. Do not be shy to raise your hand and speak up. Get out of your comfort zone. This will also help you build relationships with your professors.

Keep in touch with the International House. Talk to the International House if you feel down and just need someone to talk with. They are here to help you!

Make international and American friends. Make friends with your international and American peers. Do not limit your circle to just international friends. Your U.S. peers have grown up there, are familiar with the culture, and can guide you during your adjustment to the new academic setting. Mix and mingle with everyone.

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