For as long as I can remember, the US has been one of the most popular destinations for studying abroad. Nearly 5% of students in the US higher education system are international students. It is a massive community, and it is growing. During the Covid-19 pandemic, over 1.1 million international students enrolled, choosing to broaden their education and life experience in the “land of the free.”
If you’re one of the many people considering studying in the US, probably you're wondering what student life is like over there. And we are here to help you with that. From sororities to sports, socializing, and student jobs, here are some things you can look forward to as an international student in America.
Accommodation and campus life
Most universities in the US have a campus policy where student accommodation, teaching, research laboratories, shops, and sports facilities are all located on-site. Most of the campuses are massive, and there is nothing to stop you from taking a tour of your local city or marveling at some of the most stunning natural landscapes that the U.S. has to offer. This is especially helpful for international students as they become a part of the community from day 1.
If your university campus has a dormitory-style system, you may share a bedroom with two or three others. It is also possible to rent a single-sharing space, but the cost is substantially higher. For example, in a city such as New York, annual student rents can quickly push $20,000 or more! Ensure that you apply early for accommodations.
How to socialize and be safe?
One of the first things you need to understand as an international student in the U.S. is the fraternity and the sorority system. While you might know what it is based on its portrayal in movies and tv, while experiencing it IRL, it’s best to proceed with caution. All American universities publish campus crime statistics, so ask if you’re worried about any safety elements. Your admissions team will be happy to put your mind at ease.
Food and culture
One of the most exciting prospects of moving to the US is the fantastic food and culture. US colleges pride themselves on their food. For example, Louisiana State University boasts over 30 separate food establishments on campus! While yes, the food portions in the U.S. are significant; they’re certainly delicious!
From pizza and burgers to cuisine from every corner of the world, America is a cultural melting pot – and this is reflected in its food. You will find food that soothes your soul in the South, excellent seafood in the North-East, and fresh salads in the West-coast.
The culture of the US is also shaped by its people. It’s all about working hard, respecting others, and letting your personal views shine. Being a primarily informal culture, this might surprise many, but if you are in doubt, go for the more formal option in the first instance.
Living expenses and side hustle
The US is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, economies in the world. Being an international student in the US, you need to focus on your budget. As an international student on a visa, you can work up to 20 hours a week, but remember to check your legal rights before undertaking any paid employment!
While the US education certainly isn’t cheap (tuition and living expenses at top institutions can be more than $60,000 a year), the US universities are incredibly well respected for their high academic standards.
What else do I need to know?
If you have received a formal letter of acceptance from a US university, here are some of the most valuable things to do to adapt as an international student in the US:
- Research your campus student support since it is going to have a wealth of information, resources, and activities to make you feel at home
- Be prepared to participate in class projects, friendship groups, and sports clubs. People will expect you to contribute rather than stay silent readily
- If you are feeling rusty about your English skills before moving to the US, brush it up once more
- The US is a very welcoming country to all the people coming. Therefore, don’t be afraid to share your own culture with fellow students
- Tell your friends, professors, and college support team if you find yourself struggling with homesickness. They will surely do their best to help you