How to Ace Your First Weeks in School As an International Student
Your first week in college as an international freshman will make a lasting impression on your professors, roommates and even friends abroad. It all depends on how you set your benchmark be it academically or socially, and here’s how you can put your best foot forward!
First day of college is certainly beginning of many new beginnings: start of a fresh phase in your life; new learnings, new friendships and much more. And the excitement goes to a whole new level when the first day happens to be in a foreign country. In India professor may speak either Hindi, or local state language you have a good hold on, but the uncertainty rises when you are about to interact with teachers in a foreign college campus. Casual conversations even with new classmates might leave you clueless, but remember that they come from a different background than yours. Its alright to experience these feelings in the first few weeks. But you can hit the ground running if you start preparing in advance. Here’s how you can go about it.
1) Get Familiar With the Campus Setting
Most colleges abroad allow students to arrive at the campus site at least a few days before the official semester start date. Take this time to explore the college campus. While some university campuses can be quite inclusive meaning smaller in size and easy to get around. However big campuses can even equal the size of small townships and communities, making it easier to get lost if you are new.
Spend this free time getting used to campus spots that you will be frequently visiting during your semester. Introduce yourself to the International student services office, talk to your programme coordinator and get to know the upcoming class schedules. Browse food options in college canteens or cafeteria to get an idea of which cuisine would suit your taste buds better and where it is located. This way you will feel less stressed on the first morning of classes, as you will already know your way around a bit.
2) Be an Early Bird
Time difference between Indian timezone and where you are studying will leave you jetlagged during the first week of classes. If you’ve arrived on campus a week prior then make sure that you rise and shine early, because it will only help you and your body clock regularize with the local routine. On your first few days, you should also reserve extra time for your morning routines and your school commute - you definitely do not want to be late for any of your orientation events and introductory classes. First impressions are everything. Rushing into the classroom at the last minute with greasy hair and mismatched clothes is never a good look, both from the perspective of your teacher and your new classmates.
3) Introduce yourself to teachers
We are not saying you need to become the teacher’s pet, but it’s a good idea to introduce yourself to the professors whose classes you will be taking. The best way is to do it is to go up to them after your first class. You don’t need to say much – just tell the professor your name and where you are from and mention that you are new in town. It’s always good for the professors to know that there are foreigners in the classroom so that they can make an effort to speak more clearly and to explain complicated concepts thoroughly. Once they know you are from another country, the professors may also be more understanding if you make small grammatical errors in your essays or don’t remember the exact names of local politicians.
Studying abroad is an opportunity select few get and it comes with the advantage of getting exposed to a global crowd both in and out of the classroom that you may not get whilst studying in India. So make sure that you make the most of it! Don’t hesitate to start a conversation just because you come from a different background. Most international students have a different background than local students so you’re not the only one. Initiating conversations is a great way to start, and try to have a positive, friendly attitude towards everyone. Attend different types of events, student club meetings and freshman parties, even if only have time to stay for a short while.
But stay realistic: you are probably not going to become best friends with anyone right away, nor do you have to. Human relationships take some time to develop, even in school settings. Just be yourself, focus on doing well in your classes and be social when you get the chance. Eventually, you will find the people you click with the best. If it takes a few months, so be it. Remember making first best impression is not just only about being an academic scholar!
5) Stay Up to Date with your Studies!
Last but not the least, give utmost priority to your studies. Keep up with your assignments, don’t procrastinate in finishing the homework you get during the first week. Even if it seems simple and takes few minutes from your routine, try to wrap it up as soon as you can. Because the weeks following your first will get you busy in completing hours of other course work, assignments and not to forget weekly tests and terms. So stay focused and up to date and you will never end up in a mess.
For more interesting articles on life as an International student, visit SchoolApply now.
About the Writer: Mirva Lempiäinen is a US-educated freelance journalist from Finland. After calling New York City home for about a decade, she now resides on the French-Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.
About the Co-Author: Mustafa Sutarwala is an all-round creative marketing graduate from Amity University Dubai, and is currently working in Dubai. He's inclined to digital marketing communications and works as the Creative Ninja for SchoolApply.