International College Students' Comprehensive Guide to Socializing in the US


Studying abroad in the United States provides international students with a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in a melting pot of cultures and traditions.

Beyond academics, the social aspect of college plays a pivotal role in shaping a student's overall experience. Developing a vibrant social life not only aids in adaptation but also helps keep homesickness at bay. Here are some valuable insights on making the most of the American college experience from the very beginning.

International College Students' Comprehensive Guide to Socializing in the US
(Photo : Pexels / Kindel Media)

Diverse Connections Lead to Lasting Friendships

While it's natural for international students to initially gravitate towards their own communities, branching out and building connections with a diverse range of people is crucial. Patricia DeBolt, Dean of Admission at the University of Tulsa, suggests attending on-campus activities, orientation events, and living on campus to facilitate these connections.

Joining campus organizations is another effective way to broaden one's social circle. From cultural to academic and professional groups, universities offer a plethora of options. Mateo Pardo, a student at New York University, emphasizes the importance of openness, especially in the freshman year. Being receptive to new people and experiences can pave the way for a rich and active social life.

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Celebrate Your Differences

International students bring a plethora of cultural diversity to U.S. campuses. Rather than shying away from these differences, students are encouraged to embrace and share their unique backgrounds. Lisa D. Swaim, Director of Global Programming at the University of California-Santa Cruz, highlights the value of cross-cultural conversations. Events like "Story Circles" provide a platform for students to share their experiences and traditions, contributing to the vibrancy of the university community.

Jennie Kent, an educational consultant, stresses the importance of being true to oneself. Sharing one's culture not only enriches the campus environment but also fosters a deeper understanding among peers. In a nation comprised of various cultures, being different is not a hindrance but an asset.

Language Learning as a Social Experience

For many international students, the language barrier can be a challenge. Sushil Sukhwani, Director of the India-based education consulting firm Edwise International, advises students to acknowledge any weakness in communicating in English. This acknowledgment, he notes, allows students to comfortably ask others to speak slowly or repeat statements.

Patricia DeBolt encourages international students to practice their English skills with fellow students. Most people, she notes, are understanding and patient with those still mastering the language. Additionally, students can inquire about special study sessions for non-English speakers offered by their school's international student office.

Anita Videla Solá, a journalism major at Emerson College, emphasizes the importance of general language practice. Watching movies and listening to songs in English can be enjoyable ways to improve language skills and boost confidence in communication.

Balancing Home and College Life

While staying connected with loved ones back home is crucial, it's equally important for international students to fully engage in their new home. Jennie Kent advises students to resist getting caught up in what they might be missing at home. College is a time for building self-confidence and navigating the challenges of adult life.

Lisa D. Swaim suggests finding a balance between staying in touch with loved ones and actively participating in campus life. Too much contact with home can impede a student's adjustment to the new environment. Setting up scheduled times for communication allows students to maintain connections while ensuring they have ample time to explore and build new relationships.

The journey of international students in the U.S. extends beyond classrooms and textbooks. Actively participating in campus life, embracing diversity, overcoming language barriers, and finding the right balance between home and college are key elements in shaping a fulfilling and enriching college experience. By making the most of the social opportunities available, international students can not only adapt to their new environment but also create lasting memories and friendships that will endure long after graduation.

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