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Whether you’re an experienced traveler or you’ve never left home before, coming to the United States to study is a new and exciting experience. Prepare for your adventure with this advice from five international students who have completed their first year of study in the United States

Talk to other students

Talking to other students might make you nervous at first, but practice is the best way to improve your English and make new friends.

“It’s kind of easy if you are confident and if you are not afraid to talk to people.” says Kelvin Moreno from Panama, a coast and environmental sciences major at LSU. “That might be a problem for some international students if they don’t want to talk to others”

Once they got started, most students found that talking was easier than they thought it would be.

Emily Nyein from Burma, a biological science major with a pre-med track at UIC, says “People and students are really nice here and professors take time to actually get to know you.”

She was surprised by how curious everyone was about her culture.

“Most of the people I met genuinely would sit and ask about me and we would talk about how different the US and my country is and try to find any similarities,” Emily says.

Focus on schoolwork

Most students were pleasantly surprised by the communication and collaboration in their classes. They were particularly impressed by their professors.

Flora Deng from China, a special education major at Adelphi University says, “Teachers are nice and they encourage students to participate in class. They like active students.”

She adds, “The requirements and expectations of the professors surprised me. They require students to share their opinions and thoughts. They welcome different ideas.”

To get the most out of your classes, you also need to make time for independent study.

Kelvin achieved all A’s his first year, but some of his fellow international students didn’t do as well.

“Some of them, they have a problem when they start. They don’t focus. They don’t use their time properly, and that’s a big problem,” Kelvin says. “They can have fun if they want but… they have to stay focused.”

Explore and experience new things

Schoolwork should be a priority, but don’t forget to go out and have fun too. Students said their biggest regrets came from not taking the chance to explore and socialize.

Emily says, “ I was too focused on studying and classes and I felt as if I missed my first-year fun time. I did have fun with my friends, going out and exploring Chicago, but I wish I had done more.”

Ibrahem El Ghetrify from Egypt, an electrical engineering student at LSU, says, “It’s going to be hard, definitely, especially being away from your family for the first time and getting to the point where you’re comfortable with the people around you.”

He recommends using the resources at your global office to connect with people and make new friends.

“From my point of view, the more friends you have the better you feel!” says Akmal Muminov from Uzbekistan a computer science student specializing in software engineering at Adelphi.

Try your best

“Do not be afraid to make mistakes,” Akmal says. “Be risky to try everything that you can afford, because when you try, you learn something new and gorgeous.”