No matter what stage of life you are in, moving is a very stressful experience. This is only compounded when you are moving to a new country to begin your education as an international student.
In all the anxiety, excitement, and activity of planning your first year of study at an American college, it is easy to forget about certain things, some of which are critically important. If you are preparing to start your first year as a student in the United States, it is worth your time to make sure that you have planned and prepared for the following:
Moving from one country to another—even temporarily—is a complicated and, at times, arduous experience. In addition to securing housing, ensuring that your belongings arrive safely, and acclimating to a new environment, there are several items that your host government and school will expect you to secure.
The first is your passport. This form of identification allows you to travel between countries. Passports are issued by your government, which means you will need to determine which department oversees this matter. Keep in mind that passports can take several months to arrive, so plan accordingly.
The second is a visa. In addition to your passport, a visa enables you to be in the United States for a specific purpose (such as an education) for a specific period of time. Failing to apply for a visa (or failing to meet its conditions during the school year) can affect your status as a student, so you absolutely must coordinate with your government and school to ensure that you are in good standing.
By now, you have likely realized that not all educational programs are alike. A college in the United States, for example, could have very different expectations than a college in another country. If you have already been accepted to a school, it may be helpful to review curricula or syllabi from the college to begin familiarizing yourself with the general requirements.
Curricula and syllabi can sometimes be found online, but if you cannot locate them, a representative from your school may be able to help you. These documents will give you a sense of what types of books or materials you might use, how particular classes might be structured, and what types of assignments you might complete.
Cultural and social considerations
Depending on where you are traveling from, the culture and social environment of your school could be very different from what you are used to, so it is worth exploring the area (if only digitally) before you arrive.
In many cases, students will visit a college before accepting an offer. However, for international students, this often very difficult or impossible due to cost, distance, and so on. If you are not able to visit your new city or town before arriving for your first year, investigate whether the school has any information on the area. This might include materials about local restaurants and attractions, or resources like a library or cultural center. You might also learn about activities or social groups that you might be interested in joining.
Finally, most colleges have a center or representative whose job it is to help international students acclimate to their new surroundings. If you have not spoken with this individual or department yet, you may wish to reach out to introduce yourself. Depending on your circumstances and experience, the international student affairs representative or office may be the best option for helping you with tasks like joining campus groups and navigating your new environment.
David White is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.