10 Tips before leaving to study in the U.S.
1. The first week is the most complicated.
You don’t know anyone, you’re living in a room with a person you’ve just met and with whom you’re going to spend a whole year sharing a tiny room. BE QUIET, you will feel at home in less time than you expect. It may not seem to get any better, but the moment you start getting to know every corner of the university and have found your first friends, everything becomes easier. The university will surely organize events where you will meet people who are in the same situation as you, take advantage of these events to make friends and start to feel comfortable in your new home.
2. It is impossible to plan absolutely everything before leaving.
No matter how much you have informed yourself, when you get to college everything is going to be new and unexpected. Each person and their situation is different, so it is impossible for someone to tell you what you are going to experience because they are not you. It’s good to get informed to get an idea, but be aware that once you arrive, your experience will differ from what you had imagined.
3. Get involved.
If you are an athlete it is a little easier because a team is like a family and you already have a group to go to whenever you want. However, if you are not an athlete, it is more complicated to find a group of people with whom you immediately have something in common. Therefore, it is advisable to get involved in the activities that the university offers for freshmen. There you will meet people in the same situation as you, so you should try to make friends to get the most out of your experience from the beginning.
4. The friends you make will be forever.
You will make friends with whom you will probably spend most of your time, since you will live quite close, if not in the same room. Living 24/7 with the same people makes them become your family, especially when you are the ones who decide to live together.
5. Keep in touch with your family.
Once you start to feel comfortable with your friends and take advantage of your independence, don’t forget about your family. In college, free time is scarce and when you do have it, what you want to do is have fun with your friends. Get in the habit of keeping in touch with your parents, both by phone calls and messages. Not only will it help you feel closer to them, it will also help them not miss you so much.
6. Study and go to class.
Although American majors don’t tend to study as much “elbow grease,” you are likely to get assignments very often in most classes. Don’t go in with the mindset that you’re not going to work because you’ll probably have to write more than you think.
With no one to tell you to go to class, it can be very tempting to skip class. In the U.S., going to class can make a difference in your final grade. Many professors count participation almost as much as exams, so go to class, attend, and try to participate. Also, the more attention you pay in class, the less you will have to study for exams.
7. Don’t buy class books, look for options to rent them.
Generally, renting is significantly cheaper than buying. And if you buy books, try to sell them at the end of the school year, American universities usually offer a book purchase option whereby they will give you cash for as many books as they can buy.
8. There will be good days, but there will also be bad days.
Studying in the USA is one of the best experiences you can have. But as everywhere, there will also be bad days. Down days are never lacking, but you have to understand that it is normal to have days like this from time to time and you have to learn to overcome them.
9. Going home is almost harder than leaving.
Living abroad gives you a freedom that you don’t have at home, with your parents. Getting used to living with friends and organizing your own life makes returning home more complicated than leaving. Besides, living abroad makes you mature and grow as a person, so when you return home you will realize how much you have changed.
10. Enjoy this experience, you may never experience something like this again.
Be sure to take pictures of everything so you have a souvenir to look back on once the experience is over. These experiences are unique, and although each person is different and not everyone has the same tastes, the experiences you live will be unrepeatable and indelible in your memory.
Mercyhurst University / MAE Sports & Education
“Studying in the U.S. has been the best decision I’ve made in my life, so far. That’s why, whenever I am asked, I always recommend everyone to take the leap and go. It can be a little scary at first, but it’s worth it and I can assure you that none of the people I know who have gone regret it. Get out of your comfort zone and go study in the US, you won’t regret it.”