Finding your feet on campus in the US
campus life university college

Finding your feet on campus in the US

Ashok R

Table of Contents

You're all set to make the big move to the US and begin a new life as a student. And you'll spend a lot of time on campus making new friends, doing interesting projects and enjoying a very different college experience.

Here are some things that will come in handy as you step into campus life in the US:


a) Accept that you've  entered a new culture

Odds are you've seen a bunch of sitcoms, read books and listened to podcasts that have given you a sense of US culture. But nothing compares to the real thing. You'll be far from home in a new place. And some sort of a culture shock is inevitable. So it's okay to take a deep breath and accept that there has been a massive shift instead of resisting it. You've taken a huge step and you need to give yourself a pat on the back.


b) Make an effort to meet people

College will be a mix of students from all countries. Most colleges have an orientation for freshers, and some also have special programs for students from a particular country. This is a great chance for you to meet people and break the ice.

Colleges also have fraternities and sororities that allow you to meet like-minded folks. When you're in a new country and are yet finding your feet, these are great places to start.

c) Seek help from the International Student Offices

Most campuses have an office to help international students find their way around. They can help you find housing, paperwork, on-campus jobs, brief you about the US culture and other things. When in doubt, reach out to them.


d) Don't miss life for grades (and vice versa)

The education system in the US is quite different when compared to what you might have experienced. In US, you'll have a fair amount of freedom to make your own schedule. This freedom also comes with a certain amount of responsibility. In the end, what matters is your Grade Point Average (GPA).

Some education systems go by the rote learning method where class participation isn't required. But it's a little different in the US. Once there, you are expected to engage more in class as that adds to your final grades. This means you need to change your mindset before starting classes (we're sure you'll come up tops).


e) Check the employment options your Visa allows

If you're a student, you'll be travelling on an F1 visa. This means there are certain restrictions on the type of employment you can seek. While most students take jobs on campus (because that's allowed on an F1 visa), you'll need to take permission from a Designated School Official (DSO) to get a job off-campus. You can seek help from the international student office on campus for this.

On campus jobs are usually advertised on the university's websites, and some of the more common on-campus jobs are:

a) Library assistant

b) Peer tutor

c) Campus tech support

d) Academic department assistant

f) Research assistant

A couple of things to remember if you are on an F-1 visa:

  • You can work up to 20 hours per week during a semester
  • You can work full-time on campus during extended holidays, breaks and summer sessions (up to 40 hours per week) if you intend to register for the next academic semester


f) File your tax returns

In the US, the time to file your taxes is usually every April. And as an international student, you need to file a tax return once you start working, even if it's part-time. This assumes more importance if you plan to settle in the US for the long haul, as compliance with tax laws is essential in the is regard.

g) Get a US Credit Card and Open a US Bank Account

In the US, Credit Cards are the most popular mode of transaction. For this, you'll require a social security number (SSN). Once you land in the US, you need to go to a bank, fill in the paperwork and open a bank account. Since your credit score isn't recognized in the US, you'll need to settle for a Credit Card with a low credit limit or get a secured Credit Card where you need to give cash as collateral.

But there is another alternative - Zolve.

Now you can sign up for a US Credit Card and Bank Account from your home country itself. You don't need an SSN or credit score to sign up and as a student, you can get a credit limit of up to $5,000.

The best part? The sign-up process takes less than 5 minutes.

So, go forth and achieve your dream! Blend with the US culture, and remember, you belong.  


Zolve is conducting an exclusive Webinar for students moving to the US. It is being conducted by Debrup Laha (NYU Alumnus) and Titash Mandal (NYU Alumnus). You can sign up for it here.