The USA is the top choice for Indian students who wish to study abroad. The country not only promises excellent quality of education but also far better career prospects for many students. Many Indians decide to study in the USA to avoid intense competition in India for top colleges. Even average students in India can find their way into good US universities and earn a good salary on the US soil.
The US universities are equally welcoming of Indian students. Top US universities have a dedicated office for international students to ensure that international students are comfortable and find it easy to adjust to their new surroundings. These offices are often also kept in charge of arranging events to attract Indian students.
However, despite the availability of various channels dedicated to making the life of an Indian student easier in the US, there are some things that are just different from what we are used to. To help save you hours of research and to help you prepare, we have compiled a list of things nobody tells you about going from India to study in the USA.
Honesty in Study and Work
Indian students are very well-versed with ‘jugaad’ and as Indians, we are of the firm opinion that there is always an alternative way to deal with things. Whether it be our college applications, admissions, examinations or even taking up a job, using your ‘sources’ and the good old ‘jugaad’ never fails to impress. You might find that things are vastly different in US universities. Students are more honest about their studies and work hard to complete their assignments on time. Plus, the style of teaching and study is different than in India and you might face some difficulty initially to adjust to the new environment.
Make Efforts in Networking
Networking is very important especially if you are a foreign student. The more contacts you make during your study, the more help you can expect to get not only in your university but also outside of it. It is important to go out and talk to people, your classmates, senior-year students, teachers, vendors in your university. Maintaining a pleasant attitude and a good relationship will not take too much of your time and effort but the people you connect with will not only help you feel comfortable and welcome in a foreign land but may also prove to be helpful in your growth.
Be Careful With Your Money and Time
A lot of money and time is spent on higher education and the importance of spending both of these resources judiciously increases manifold if it is done from a foreign country. In such a situation, it becomes very important for a student to get into the habit of spending wisely and creating good spending habits such as tracking your money. Plus, a lot of clubs and organizations are usually active in the universities in the USA and it can get easy to lose track of time if you take too much on your plate. Balance your studies, your hobbies and leave some time for rest and relaxation as well.
Learn to Cook
Cooking is one skill that you must definitely start working on before leaving for the USA. Eating out can not only be unhealthy but also expensive. Learning how to cook will allow you to create your own meals as per your requirements and it will help you eat much healthier and much better food in the same amount of money. Not to mention that you will be able to impress your friends with some delicious homemade Indian recipes that they will not find anywhere else.
Keep Your Guard Up
When moving to a developed country like the US, students often let their guard down thinking that they would be absolutely safe. However, bad elements can be found in every society and as a foreign student, you must be especially careful to avoid any such bad elements. As a foreigner in a country, you will have less security than a citizen of the USA and hence it is better to stay away from anything even remotely suspicious than face disciplinary action from the university.
Keep Your Private Information Safe
For any individual motivated for mischief, it is easy to misuse private information such as your bank account number, credit card number, etc. It is very important that you keep this information safe and ensure that it does not fall into the wrong hands. Not only bank-related information but even giving out your full name and address in public would be a bad idea.
See Your City and Meet the Locals
Moving to the US would be a big shift and there will be a lot of new things to see and take in apart from the university and your studies. Go out, visit the city’s highlights, talk to the local people and vendors. There will be no harm in asking a lot of questions to find out information about the city you are in. There will be lots of new and exciting things to explore.
Value People’s Privacy
Indians are very used to personal questions about friends and family even from strangers. However, things are somewhat different in the USA. Americans are more private individuals and it is best to steer away from any questions about personal matters when talking to strangers. At the same time, it is better not to share your personal information as well.
Respect the Local Culture
The local culture and demographic would certainly not be the same as what you are used to at home. You will find that society is more diverse and generally more open in many matters in the USA. Plus, you may also find that there are a lot of local customs cherished by people not only in your university but also in your city. It is very important to give respect to these customs and beliefs, and you will get respect in return.
Homesickness will Kick In
No matter how excited you might be about living in a foreign country, homesickness is bound to kick in sooner or later. Hence, it is important to stay in touch with your family and friends back home as well. It will give you a sense of familiarity and take the edge off the culture shock of moving to another country with a completely different social fabric.
With some common sense and a positive attitude, you are bound to have a great experience studying at a US university. You will make a lot of friends and find people who are willing to help you succeed and share their knowledge and experience with you. However, as is the case with moving to any new place, it is best to proceed with caution in any new situation and say nowhere a no is needed.
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Written by Abhinav Chamoli