23 Things International Students Need To Know About America

23 Things International Students Need To Know About America

Yes, we really do sell guns in Walmart.
686
views

As an International Student Ambassador, I help international students at Baylor move in and adjust to life as a student in the United States. Throughout my time participating in this process I've learned a lot, so here are some things that I think all international students should know before coming here to study!

1. A lot of Americans have never left the country… or their state.

Be patient with people who don’t know a whole lot about travel. You obviously have traveled a lot, but that isn’t as common of a lifestyle in the U.S. as other places.

2. If they have, odds are they haven’t met anyone from your country (Even if they’ve been there).

This doesn’t mean that they don’t want to! One of my friends once asked if they had shopping carts in France. People have asked my Chinese friend what it’s like not having a fridge. They just need to learn about your culture and get to know you!

3. In N Out is the best fast food place to get a burger.

Don’t listen to the Texans, they just don’t know any better.

4. You need to bring your ID everywhere.

We ask to see them when buying drinks, and most bars are 21 and up. Bring it if you want to drink alcohol!

5. We dress casual to class.

Unless there is a project or presentation, we all mope into class with sweats and t-shirts.

6. But we are always on time.

While a lot of cultures are more laid back (I was late to class all the time when I studied abroad in Italy), teachers are much less understanding of this in U.S. schools. Be on time to class and any meetings that you may go to.

7. They sell guns, and everything else, at Walmart.

This is mainly just for students going to school in Texas. Walmart has everything one needs, and for Texans, what “one needs” is a gun at everyday low prices. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it!

8. TIP WELL, your server may not get a pay check!

In many U.S. states, servers are paid far less than minimum wage, but are taxed on the full minimum wage. This means they are paid $2.13 per hour, but are taxed so high that their total paycheck could be pennies. They live off of your tips, so be sure to tip them well.

9. We love to make small talk.

When someone smiles at you or starts a conversation out of the blue, they are probably just being nice. Unlike many countries where this may be confused for a pick pocketing scheme or something else negative, strangers address each other often in the United States. It’s a very open society you should embrace!

10. Women are independent and will call you out if you mess with them.

The women’s rights movement is going strong here in the states, so if you try to harass or otherwise victimize women here, we won’t let it slide. Especially in a place like Baylor where sexual assault scandals have recently been mainstream news, we do not tolerate it.

11. Your driver’s license is probably valid!

In Texas, international students can use their country’s driver’s license to drive vehicles within the state. Check the laws in your state, and you may consider getting a car if you are staying in the country for long enough.

12. Many students have one or more minors.

These are best described as small majors. For example, if you are a literature minor, you may take a few upper division literature classes to satisfy your minor. They are a great way to take some fun classes or boost your resume with something more specific.

13. We have a LOT of clubs. Join!

Most schools have activities to join that will enrich your college experience and help you meet new friends. From sports to hobbies to language clubs, you’ll find a place where you feel like you fit in.

14. We also have faculty and staff from all over the world.

If you are looking for a taste of home, try visiting with one of our international professors. They love meeting the new international students and welcoming them into their home.

15. We rely heavily on standardized testing.

If you want to get ahead at a University here, be sure to prepare for the tests. The homework may not be required, but most professors will get their test questions from this.

16. And on class participation.

Teachers love when you raise your hand in class. Especially in the smaller classes, focus on speaking up and getting to know your professors. It can go a long way!

17. Don’t drink the punch.

You'll thank me later.

18. Make sure you have WhatsApp, Facebook, or both.

These will be your primary communication tools when you’re here, so I would get both!

19. Make a vocabulary list.

I had a couple friends that were accustomed to doing this. Every time they learned a new English word, they wrote it down and studied their list every night. It may seem like a lot of work, but it will save you confusion in the long run.

20. Speaking of, learn some common idioms before you come here.

Trust me, learn this list and you will be a lot less confused.

21. Ask questions.

This is neither impolite nor unexpected. No one thinks you will know everything the moment you arrive, so feel free to ask questions.

22. Get to know American students from around the country, not just the place you’re studying.

Every region of our country is different, and we would probably love to give you a place to go for Thanksgiving.

23. Plan out your healthcare in advance.

We have a really intricate, frankly confusing healthcare system. Especially for financial reasons, make sure you have and understand your healthcare system as soon as possible so you don’t have to when you’re sick.

Cover Image Credit: cityofpg / Flickr

Popular Right Now

If South Carolina Colleges Were Characters From 'The Office'

Who's Jim and who's Meredith?
18411
views

"The Office" is one of the best shows on the face of the planet. Don't believe me, you obviously haven't watched it. It has a character for everything, including all of the South Carolina colleges.

The Citadel

This one is probably the easiest. Creed Bratton. Hands down. Military all day every day. No one knows what really goes on behind closed doors, except the people there. Just like Creed's mind.

Coastal Carolina University

Consistently voted one of the top party schools in the nation. #It'snotcollegeit'sCoastal.

Winthrop University

Winthrop is the place for future teachers. We all know that Meredith is the mother/teacher figure in the office, which is kind of scary in and of itself.

Columbia College

Erin just seems like the type of person who would go to an all-female college.

Bob Jones University

At what other school do you see people wearing things that could be from the American Girl large colonial dolls Spring line?

Wofford College

The pearls, Greek Life, and Southern fashion are so real.

Furman University

Let's be real. Pam is a bit of a nerd. But at the end of the day, she does know how to get down. I mean she WAS on the party planning committee. And who doesn't want that Ring By Spring?

College of Charleston

Nard Dog is definitely in an a capella group in Charleston, taking in the city and the history while dressing like a frat star.

Medical University of South Carolina

Andy isn't alone in Charleston. Dwight is down there becoming a doctor. Yes, someone who can save lives and is able to do surgery. Although, who else would you expect to be a doctor?

University of South Carolina

There would be no South Carolina without the University of South Carolina. There would be no office without Michael Scott. The later seasons prove it. They're large and in charge.

Clemson University

While Michael thinks that he runs the office, it's no secret that Jim is the mastermind behind the operation. The office would fall apart without him. I'll just let that sit.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Your Brain Is More Than A Bag of Chemicals

In David Anderson's 2013 Ted Talk, the Caltech professor discusses the downfalls of mental healthcare in our society, opening a discussion to wider societal issues.

508
views

David Anderson, in his Ted Talk "Your Brain is Not a Bag of Chemicals" dives into the world of treatment for psychiatric illnesses, of scientific research, and of fruit flies. His goal, to explain the flaws in current treatments of mental illnesses and present how this downfalls could be resolved is clear throughout the talk. Through presenting his research, and speaking of novel contributions such as the actual discovery of emotion in fruit flies, Anderson displays the flaws in mental healthcare and demands more of the scientific world to resolve these downfalls.

As Anderson explains, the traditional view of mental illnesses is that they are a chemical imbalance in the brain. He states, "As if the brain were some kind of bag of chemical soup filled with dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine." He explains the difference for typical treatments of physical ailments versus psychological ailments. As he describes it, physical ailments presented to a physician will lead to blood tests, biological assays, and various other factors to gather information about what is going on in the body so that a treatment plan can be well-suited to that issue. However, for psychological problems, the patient is often handed a questionnaire to assess the issues. These questionnaires, as he suggests, are insufficient in understanding the complexities that surround mental illnesses.

Of medication prescribed for mental illnesses, Anderson states, "These drugs have so many side effects because using them to treat a complex psychiatric disorder is a bit like trying to change your engine oil by opening a can and pouring it all over the engine block. Some of it will dribble into the right place, but a lot of it will do more harm than good." Anderson uses the example of dopamine and the model organism of fruit flies to explain this concept. He explains how in certain illnesses, such as ADHD, there is not a complete understanding of why there are features of learning disabilities and hyperactivity. Without this understanding, the treatment of just increasing the amount of dopamine in one's system is lacking.

Anderson suggests that pharmaceutical companies and scientists should do more research to not only discover the disturbances of neural pathways, which tend to be the real cause of mental illnesses, but to also develop new medications that attempt to resolve these specific pathways and specific receptors, rather than simply increasing the amount of a certain neurochemical. These new medications could and do revolutionize the way that mental illnesses are treated, and the efficacy in their treatment.

As a society, there is a general view of mental illnesses that varies greatly from the view of physical illnesses. Anderson, without directly discussing it, acknowledges this exact problem. He discusses the differences in treatments, but also the lack of resources that are put in to truly understand how to better treat mental illnesses as disturbances in neurophysiological components. Without, as a society, acknowledging and respecting mental illnesses for what they are, we are short-changing the 25% of the world who is directly impacted by these illnesses, and the countless loved ones who stand by those impacted. A shift needs to occur, and the research and ideas that Anderson presents are a wonderful scientific starting point for these shifts. However, if we as a society do not support the principles behind this science, do not support the concept that mental illness is much more than just being a little emotionally reactive, we are doing a disservice to the majority of the population.

Related Content

Facebook Comments