If you are planning to pursue your higher studies in foreign countries, PLEASE DO READ this note. These are some of the important things you should keep in mind.
1-Know what you are getting into. Do ample research before selecting the ideal college to suit your profile. Connect with students and ask about the overlooked details, from how much it costs to do laundry and how to dress for the weather, to the teaching style of professors for the academic programs you’re considering. As an international student, there will always be surprises, but with research, you can minimise the negatives and readily embrace the positives.
2-Whether you like it or not, you will always stand out amongst the crowd. The best thing to do is to take advantage of having a distinguishing feature; sometimes it turns out to be quite a boon.
3-Mingle and make as many friends as you can. Everyone is going through the same thing, and everyone will be looking to make friends, so don’t be shy. Put yourself out there. Try not to stick with other Indians. It is pointless traveling thousands of miles and paying thousands of dollars to just stay with the same people you have been used to all your life. Take advantage of the new culture, make new friends, and experience new things.
4-The narrow categories of those who work hard versus those who play hard no longer apply. Many students you’ll meet work hard during the week and play hard on weekends. To do well abroad, you must develop a work ethic. Consistency is key here. If you put in hard work throughout the week, you will succeed academically. And then you can afford to have some fun on the weekends. This is different from the Indian culture of mixing work and fun throughout the week.
5-Develop your writing skills. The American system of education can be very different from the Indian system of education. A great percentage of your grade will be attributed to writing work in the form of essays or research papers. Having superior writing skills is a significant advantage.
6-Tests here are very different from what we are used to. There are fewer three-hour-hour long complicated question papers and more multiple-choice questions and short answers that cover a small portion of the syllabus. This is an easier part of the transition, and many Indian students will have an advantage in this area.
7-Don’t forget to read up on the weather. Make sure you have the right clothing. Trust me, you do not want to be stranded in two feet of snow with nothing warm to wear.
8-College is a place where you can do as much as you want and as little as you want. Take advantage of all the opportunities and try to get as involved as possible. At Washington College you will find many ways to get involved through sports, clubs, even student government. This is a great way to meet new people and build character.
9-Initially, you will miss your home. You will miss your friends. You will miss the food. And yes, however crazy they drive you now, you will miss your parents. The first few days will be challenging no matter how well you are mentally prepared. My advice would once again be get as involved as possible. Immerse yourself in different activities, and before you know it, all homesickness will fade away. Don’t let the fear of leaving home stop you from what could potentially be the greatest experience of your life.
10-College is a place where you find yourself, if not create yourself. You truly discover who you are, which makes it one of the greatest experiences you will probably have to date. It might not feel that way at first, but prepare for the challenges, embrace the surprises, and you may just have the time of your life.