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.
534
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

To All Incoming Freshmen, When You Get To College, Please Don't Be THAT Freshman

I am pretty sure we all know who I'm talking about.

99029
views

As we are all counting down the days to return to campus, students are looking forward to meeting new people and reuniting with old friends. And then, there is the freshman.

We have all been there. The eagerness and excitement have been slowly building up through months of summer vacation, all waiting for this moment. I understand the anxiousness, enthusiasm, and insecurities. The opportunity to meet new people and explore a new area is very intriguing. But let's be real, you are here to make memories and get an education. So here are a few pieces of advice from a former college freshman.

1. Don't be that freshman who follows their significant other to college

This is the boy or girl who simply can not think for themselves. The 17-year-old puts their own personal goals and interests aside to sacrifice for a six-month high school relationship. This will more than likely end at an end of semester transfer after the relationship has been tested for a month or two in college life. So if you want to really enjoy your freshman year, make your own decisions and do what is best for you.

2. Don't be that freshman who lets their parents pick their major

"You are not going to school just to waste my money."

This is a statement you might have heard from your parents. As true as it might seem, this is definitely not a good way to start your college years. If you are not majoring in something you can see yourself doing, you are wasting your time. You can major in biology, go to medical school, and make the best grades. But if deep down you don't want to be a doctor, you will NOT end up being a good doctor. When it comes to picking your major, you really have to follow your heart.

3. Don't be that freshman who gets overwhelmed with the first taste of freedom

Yes. It is all very exciting. You don't have a curfew, you don't have rules, you don't have anyone constantly nagging you, but let's not get carried away. Don't be the freshman who gets a tattoo on the first night of living on your own. Don't be the freshman who tries to drink every liquor behind the bar. Don't be the freshman who gets caught up being someone that they aren't. My best advice would be to take things slow.

4. Don't be that freshman who starts school isolated in a relationship

I'm not telling you not to date anyone during your freshman year. I am saying to not cut yourself off from the rest of the world while you date someone. Your first year on campus is such an amazing opportunity to meet people, but people are constantly eager to start dating someone and then only spend time with that person.

Be the freshman who can manage time between friends and relationships.

5. Don't be that freshman who can't handle things on their own

It is your first year on your own. Yes, you still need help from your parents. But at this point, they should not be ordering your textbooks or buying your parking pass. If you need something for a club or for class, YOU should handle it. If you're having roommate problems, YOU should handle it, not your parents. This is the real world and college is a great time for you to start building up to be the person you want to be in the future, but you can't successfully do that if your parents still deal with every minor inconvenience for you.

6. Don't be that freshman who only talks to their high school friends

I know your high school was probably amazing, and you probably had the coolest people go there. However, I believe that college is a great time to be on your own and experience new things. Meeting new people and going to new places will allow you to grow into a more mature person. There is a way to balance meeting new friends and maintaining friendships with childhood friends, and I am sure you will find that balance.

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

College Isn't For Everyone And That's Not A Bad Thing

End the stigma around technical college and certification programs.

2
views

No, this is not my farewell from college. Rather, this piece is to bring to light the facts that support those who decide to take the non-traditional path to pursue certificates, two-year degrees and apprenticeship programs that many look down upon. This is for those who prefer "middle-skill" jobs, which to me seems like a rude misnomer for these jobs.

In high school, it is almost pounded into your head that to be successful, you must go to a four-year college or university and receive a bachelor's degree; then, if you want to be even more successful, you must pursue even higher education. But, college isn't for everyone, especially an experience that requires four years (or more worth) of time. There are ways to make money and a successful future for yourself without dropping thousands of dollars on your education.

Just to lay down some facts before we get too far into this discussion: "middle-skill" jobs, also known as jobs that require some postsecondary training or education but less than a bachelor's degree, account for 55% of Wisconsin's labor market. If you still are a little lost on the concept of "middle-skill," then think of trades, beauticians and estheticians, certain roles in the healthcare field like phlebotomist or CNA. There are over 48 million jobs that require some education and training beyond a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree. 48 MILLION JOBS.

There are some kids who are very crafty, especially in things like welding or carpentry, which don't necessarily need a typical college or university education. Certificates or programs can lead to many different avenues of work, taking a shorter amount of time and costing less money. There's always the option to go to a technical college or just continue out of high school. Through programs like Youth Apprenticeships or Dual Enrollment, high school kids can get a jumpstart on earning an industry credential or degree that will help them with their future career.

Many people look down on others for not continuing down the very common, very expensive route that a lot of kids are pushed down nowadays: the four year university route. And with that comes a very big problem: the pressure to go down the typical path leads to failure in college, wage gaps and job fields that are in dire need of skilled and certified employable people. Up until I actually graduated and got out of my small town, I started to see that every avenue available to you is viable, and whatever choice you decide to make for post-secondary education (if you to decide to make such a decision) doesn't make you any less valuable to the workforce. To me, many of these "middle-skill" jobs are more than I could ever handle, and, in this day and age, any person could really walk off the street and do marketing, which is what I am studying in college.

I have known kids who were 4.0 students, great athletes and very well-rounded yet decided against the university route; when others heard about their plans, they were always curious as to why they weren't traveling down the typical route. Well, they knew exactly what they wanted to do and didn't need to waste thousands of dollars on an education that wasn't applicable to their future careers. No matter how smart, it's not smart to waste your money on something unecessary, so why waste all that time and money?

Don't discount any path for your future. Typical or not, it doesn't mean it is always right for you. Explore your options. Follow your passions. Use your talents and pursue your dreams. College isn't for everybody.

Related Content

Facebook Comments