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.
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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

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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Five Tips to Get on Top of Your 2019: Tech Editions

Yeah, there's an app for that.

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Technology is the course of the future, why not use it to get on top of your new year? Make 2019 the year you stop sleeping on these great productivity apps and get grinding! Best part, all the apps I've included here are free.

Google Calendar.

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Google Doc File Folders

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Momentum Chrome Extension

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