10 common mistakes first-year international students need to avoid

According to experts, missing the orientation session, forgetting to change money or just making friends with fellow countrymen... are common mistakes made by first-year international students.

1. Did not attend orientation

Some universities organize orientation sessions a few days earlier for international students to settle down and connect with the international student office.

Gina Wilner, a planning consultant at Advantage College Planning (USA), says that an early orientation session can include a tour of the campus and some of the surrounding area, helping students get used to the new environment. This activity is designed for students to connect with friends, learn how to own their new home, from finding classes, health centers and Computer labs...

"For the smooth sailing process of studying abroad, you need a basic understanding of the school. So as soon as your university sends you information about orientation, be sure to book your plane tickets right away," says Wilner.

2. Forgot to call home upon arrival

Students may be excited to start a new life, but families back home want to know that their loved ones have arrived safely.

Sarah Lopolito, assistant dean of the Department of International Educational Programming, Director of the Institute of American Language and Culture, Clark University (USA), said that the fact that students do not contact their parents when they come to school will make relationships. both sides become serious. Many worried parents may call the police and offices to track down their children.

"So, as soon as you land, you should use wifi at the airport to let you know that you have arrived safely. For the first few days, keep in touch regularly to keep your parents comfortable and secure," Wilner said. .

3. No currency exchange

Experts say that you need to bring some money that has been converted into the currency of the country you are going to, because some places only accept cash. "Tipping is a real-life example, especially if you're taking a taxi from the airport to school," says Lopolito.

In addition to exchanging money, you also need a credit card. In the event of a wallet loss, your funds will be safe as most credit card holders are not responsible for misappropriated fees.

4. Let the "jet lag" overwhelm you

"Jet lag" is a syndrome of the body caused by time zone changes without synchronization. "Jet lag" occurs when people move quickly through the hour, or when sleep is disrupted.

When you study abroad, "jet lag" is quite common, so it's important to plan accordingly. "Plan to adjust to the new time zone, minimizing its effects by eating on time and drinking plenty of water," advises Lopolito.

5. Forgot to register for the course

Signing up for credits can fill classes quickly, so forgetting to sign up will result in students missing out on needed or desired classes.

Diana Vicezar from Paraguay, a sophomore studying cognitive science at Pitzer University (USA), said most freshmen only apply for the worst positions and most courses will be closed. seat before you register.

Therefore, to make the most of the time, Vicezar advises new international students to make a list of classes they want to take and at least five other additional classes. With that, share this list with your academic advisor to get feedback.

Ethan Sawyer, founder of the College Essay Guy website, advises students to take a variety of classes in different majors and fields during their first year of college. "You never know if a subject or professor is right or inspiring for you in an area or direction, unless you experience it," Sawyer says.

6. Buy all materials from the school's bookstore

In the US, college textbooks can be very expensive. The school's bookstores will give students several different options for getting the materials they need for each course, including buying new books, used books, or renting books by term. In addition, to save money, students can borrow textbooks from the library or buy them online. "Students should shop for the best price possible, just make sure not to buy fake publications," says Lopolito.

As for his experience as a sophomore, Vicezar said that books should not be purchased if the professor did not ask. Instead, you can ask to borrow a senior, see in the library if there is a free copy.

7. Only make friends with freshmen or countrymen

During her first term at American college, Vicezar didn't talk to anyone in her class, because she thought others would laugh at her voice, or think she wasn't ready to go to college. "As it turned out, every student was very understanding and kind," said Vicezar.

In many countries to study abroad, especially the US, the diversity of students' nationalities is a feature. According to Lopolito, second-year students and above have more experience, which can offer useful advice to freshmen. Experts recommend that international students push themselves to connect with friends from all over the world, broadening their horizons and cultural capital.

8. Not dealing with financial matters

When he first arrived in the US, Vicezar didn't know how to open a bank account or get a social security number. "Don't waste time," she advises. "Ask someone at the international student support office for help as soon as you arrive at school. Don't wait for others to offer help, you should proactively ask questions."

Lopolito says that to avoid additional stress and anxiety, it is important for international students to plan their finances, such as tuition, housing, meals, transportation, clothing and entertainment needs. . "International student visas in the US don't allow working off-campus in most cases. As a result, they may not earn money while studying abroad," she said.

9. Only take advice from international students

Experts say that the international student office is the best source for all questions and concerns that international students have. "In some cases, students may receive incorrect information from friends and colleagues, especially in matters related to visa maintenance. Therefore, students should always check with staff. school staff for policies and regulations regarding detention, duration of courses and travel," said Lopolto.

10. Excessive isolation or integration

Seclusion or isolation can prevent students from achieving the full international student experience, but experts also advise against over-indulging. Instead, strike a balance when it comes to school-related activities.

"Scheduling yourself too much in the first year doesn't create space in your life nor time for initiatives and get-togethers," says Sawyer.

Vicezar joined six clubs during his first semester in the US and found himself suffocating when trying to manage time between classes, work and family, especially when having to stay home due to Covid. -19. "At the end of the semester, I decided to prioritize my mental health and leave the organizations I couldn't commit to due to lack of time," Vicezar said. "I'm currently an active member of two clubs and couldn't be happier."

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