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.
1028
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

I'd Rather Be Single Than Settle: Here Is Why Being Picky Is Okay.

They're on their best behavior when you're dating.
5022
views

Dating nowadays described in one word: annoying. What's even more annoying? when people tell you that you're being too "picky" when it comes to dating. Yes, from an outside perspective sometimes that's exactly what it looks like; however, when looking at it from my perspective it all makes sense. I've heard it all, "He was cute, why didn't you like him?" "You didn't even give him a chance!" "You pay too much attention to the little things!"

What people don't understand is that it's OKAY to be picky when it comes to guys. For some reason, girls in college freak out and think they're supposed to have a boyfriend by now, be engaged by the time they graduate, etc. It's all a little ridiculous; however, I refuse to put myself on a time table such as this due to the fact that these girls who feel this way are left with no choice but to overlook the things in guys that they shouldn't be overlooking, they're settling and this is something that I refuse to do.

So this leaves the big question: What am I waiting for?

Well, I'm waiting for a guy who...

1. Wants to know my friends.

Blessed doesn't even begin to describe how lucky I am to have the friends that I do. I want a guy who can hang out with my friends. If a guy makes an effort to impress your friends then that says a lot about him and how he feels about you. This not only shows that he cares about you but he cares about the people in your life as well. Someone should be happy to see you happy and your friends contribute to that happiness, therefore, they should be nothing more than supportive and caring towards you and your friendships.

2. Actually, cares to get to know me.

Although this is a very broad statement, this is the most important one. A guy should want to know all about you. He should want to know your favorite movie, favorite ice cream flavor, favorite Netflix series, etc. Often, (the guys I get stuck on dates with) love to talk about themselves: they would rather tell you about what workout they did yesterday, what their job is, and what they like to do rather than get to know you.

This is something easy to spot on the first date, so although they may be "cute," you should probably drop them if you leave your date and can recite everything about their life since the day they were born, yet they didn't catch what your last name was.

3. How they talk about other women.

THIS IS CRUCIAL FOR FINDING A NICE GUY. It does not matter who they're talking about, if they call their ex-girlfriend crazy we all know she probably isn't and if she is it's probably their fault. If they talk bad about their mom, let's be honest, if they're disrespecting their mother they're not going to respect you either. If they mention girl's physical appearances when describing them. For example, "yeah, I think our waitress is that blonde chick with the big boobs." Well if that doesn't hint they're a complete f* boy then I don't know what else to tell you. And most importantly calling other women "bitches" that's just disrespectful.

Needless to say, if his conversations are similar to ones you'd hear in a frat house, ditch him.

4. Phone etiquette.

If he can't put his phone down long enough to take you to dinner then he doesn't deserve for you to be sitting across from him. If a guy is serious about you he's going to give you his undivided attention and he's going to do whatever it takes to impress you and checking snapchat on a date is not impressive. Also, notice if his phone is facedown, then there's most likely a reason for it. He doesn't trust who or what could pop up on there and he clearly doesn't want you seeing. Although I'm not particularly interested in what's popping up on their phones, putting them face down says more about the guy than you think it does.

To reiterate, it's okay to be picky ladies, you're young, there's no rush. Remember these tips next time you're on a date or seeing someone, and keep in mind: they're on their best behavior when you're dating. Then ask yourself, what will they be like when they're comfortable? Years down the road? Is this what I really want? If you ask yourself these questions you might be down the same road I have stumbled upon, being too picky.. and that's better than settling. :)

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

It's Time For You High Schoolers To Invest Your Time Into Your Careers

It may seem too early to specialize, but there will be a point where it's too late.

278
views

If you're in high school, odds are you're approached by friends, family and more family about your plans after. For many of us, this can mean college. From convincing a college to admit you to convincing them to foot your entire tuition bill, you need to be marketable.

You should start with writing out your resume. Write it specifically oriented towards your career path. My resume, for example, is music themed. If you are anything like younger me, you might have a couple things that fit. I had marching band, concert band, honor band. But the majority might be things you signed up for to round yourself out.

A candidate too well rounded is directionless.

My participation in science club was fun, I will admit. But it didn't do much for me. It didn't teach me leadership, nor cooperation nor did it help with my career path.

High school is a lot more limited a time to both express and market yourself than you might think. Before I knew it, I was sitting in my junior year without much to my musical name.

If you have an extra curricular that you participate in because you enjoy it, you don't have to drop it. If you have developed as a person or as a leader, then it might even be something you can include in your list.

I just want to caution people from getting into the same situation I was in. I spent the first three years essentially of high school to feel out different areas, and this was too much time.

Productive uses of your after school time should be things you talk about when you say what sets you apart from other students in your field. And yes, this means you have to utilize tools outside of your school offerings most of the time.

When I go to apply for college and for musical internships, I plan on listing my participation in Atlanta CV (professional drum corps in DCA), high school marching band and marching band leadership, MAYWE (Metropolitan Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble, an auditioned honor band), GYSO (Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra), AYWS (Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony), Youth Bands of Atlanta, county honor band, jazz band, twice state applicant for Governor's Honors Program Music, JanFest music at UGA, the Academy of Science, Research and Medicine (Biotechnology certification and science fair), math bowl and HOSA - Future Health Professionals.

When I go to apply for college and for musical internships, I plan on listing the most relevant activities as well as the ones I've chosen to regardless stick with. Relevant activities in regard to my music major include honor ensembles and marching activities.

My most applicable activities for music include marching bands. I am a contracted baritone marcher of Atlanta CV Drum and Bugle Corps as well as trombone marcher and two year Trombone/Baritone Section Leader for the Pride of Paulding marching band. These show relevancy because these organizations provide rapport as well as the marching activity in itself shows another level of musical capability.

My honor ensembles are relevant likewise because they show higher musical skill and provide some legitimacy to your path. I have been involved in Metropolitan Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble, county honor band, jazz band and I was also a Two-Time State Applicant to the Governor's Honors Program.

I plan to also be with the Symphony of the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble, Youth Bands of Atlanta and JanFest at UGA. Auditions are coming up for each of these and I hope to be considered for membership. These would round out my music application by showing versatility (via orchestra along with wind ensembles) and more time dedication. Both universities and employers value this level of hard work.

Of course, even I on my soapbox have some activities I've stuck with despite it not being directly related to music. Despite this, you can make them relevant by touting your experience with it. I've been an officer and competitor for our chapter of HOSA - Future Health Professionals despite not going into healthcare and I've been certified in Biotechnology through my school The Academy of Science, Research and Medicine despite not going into STEM.

My experiences in biotechnology and healthcare have provided me a round academic experience, more high rigor classes and leadership opportunities. I was co-treasurer of our HOSA chapter and my Magnet school gave me access to more AP classes and the biotechnology classes. Anything can be useful, but the extent is determined by its relevancy.

The vast majority of my activities are both outside of the school and directly related to my career path. Activities such as these can make any student automatically more competitive than an equally academically-standing student.

Finding these activities involve a combination of involving teachers and mentors in your career field as well as self research. Luckily for me, I was able to fairly quickly compile a list of Honor Bands to audition for due to the abundance in the area. My directors also named a few. Most areas should have something at least tangentially-related to your specialization.

Some opportunities require knowing the right people and being in the right place at the right time. For example, my involvement in one of my most valuable activity assets, Atlanta CV, was a result of knowing a guy that knew a guy that knew about an opening for the right instrument halfway through spring training.

What I hope readers gain from my story is to start early. I've found myself struggling to meet the market's standards in the last year of high school immediately before applying for college. Specializing would have been more effective a tad bit longer term and I hope others take my heed.

Moving on from high school can be an intimidating process. It's hard to find the right college, and even harder to convince them they want you. Harder still is convincing them to pay for your education. But all this can be made easier by specializing and becoming marketable.

Related Content

Facebook Comments