Welcome to America! Most of our students on NOD programs are in the country and have started their American journey.
Studying in the U.S. is definitely fun and will be the experience of a lifetime, but it can get overwhelming at times. We’d like to share some advice for settling into your new home away from home.
When you first arrive
It is completely normal to feel lost in the first few days, a s well as experience culture shock. Culture shock is a term used to describe the difficult emotions and feelings that come along with being immersed in or exposed to a new and different cultural setting. It also refers to the anxiety and stress you can feel when you miss the familiarities of your home culture. For both students and Host Families, culture shock is a very real part of the experience of studying abroad. Feelings of sadness, nervousness, anxiety, anger, loneliness, worry, fear, and confusion are all a part of culture shock, and you might experience them at any time after arriving in the United States. Culture shock occurs in several stages. Read about culture shock in our earlier blog post.
During this time, don’t be afraid to ask for help, there will always be someone to help you! Try to calm down and give yourself some time to get used to your new home. And remember, you are the one who needs to work hard to get the most out of this experience.
When you start at your new school, get familiar with the extra curricular activities that are offered. You will be able to get involved with volunteering programs, sports, outdoors activities, art clubs, and more! Most schools will have a wide variety of extra curricular from which you can choose. Don’t wait for others to invite you, be proactive!
Settling in to your new home
Ask your classmates about different aspects of life in your host city (which is also a great opportunity to break the ice with new friends). They might have a digital group (such as Facebook or Whatsapp), which can be useful to keep updated about local news.
It will feel much easier for you to spend time with other students from your home country, or other exchange students. However, try to live like a local by actually meeting and spending time with the locals. Even it it seems difficult at first, give it some time. With your efforts you will make new friendships and submerge yourself in the culture of your host city.
Throughout your time in the U.S.
It’s okay to miss home. Keep in touch with your family and friends, but also try to enjoy the present. Phone calls, Skyping, or FaceTiming with parents or friends one or two times per week should be sufficient to share updates about life in the U.S.
Be sure to go out and explore your host city and its surroundings. Try to understand the host culture, because it will help you to understand your own. Try to organize an international meal with peers, both local and other exchange students.
Take advantage of the chance to travel around the country. If your Host Family invites you on a trip, even if it’s still in the same state, seize the opportunity! “travel” doesn’t necessarily mean some far-off destination to somewhere that is vastly different. Travelling within the state can be just as exhilarating and rewarding as travelling further around the country and you’ll be surprised by all of the amazing things you can experience in your own backyard! Traveling nearby is affordable, relatively hassle free, eco-friendly, and fun! So near or far, take advantage of every opportunity you are given to see new sites and visit new places!