For the tens of thousands of students who will be starting college in the fall, summer is a time of great excitement and probably more than a little anxiety about transitioning into your new home and new role. As stressful as this time can be for American students, it is even more so for international students who will be traveling in a very different environment. Your transition to the American university system typically begins with an orientation designed to help all students acclimate to their new university environment.
This orientation can range from one day to one week and can include sessions only for international students. There will be formal and informal introductions led by students and staff, as well as opportunities to get to know your new classmates. It can be daunting, but if you know what to expect from the experience, you might feel a little more comfortable. So, without further ado, let’s dive into this blog and learn some of the things you can expect during orientation week in college.
1. A wealth of information
One of the main purposes of an orientation is to provide new students with information about the university or college, its academic programs, student life, and more. It can easily become overwhelming, especially for international students whose main language is not English.
Rather than trying to take detailed notes or trying to listen carefully to every word spoken, try gathering printed materials like handouts and maps. This is not to say that you should skip the presentations; it is just to say that most of the information you will be given can also be found elsewhere, such as on the university website.
2. Unknown faces
Besides learning new information, you will also meet many new people. For some students, this can make a stressful situation even more difficult. If you fear large social situations, keep in mind that other students are in the same situation as you and may also feel nervous or stressed.
If you want to get a head start on meeting your classmates, find out if the school has a message board or social media group (like Facebook) that you can join before the semester begins. This will give you the opportunity to build several relationships before the orientation.
3. Rules and Regulations
During orientation, there will likely be several meetings or presentations related to university rules and regulations. Topics can include response policies for class schedule changes or plagiarism, as well as drug and alcohol bans and mental health resources. These are very important aspects of campus life, so if you’re worried about missing out on critical information, do some research before orientation or arrive prepared to ask questions.
If you’ve ever been in a formal group with strangers, you might be familiar with icebreakers. These are group activities that aim to help people get to know and trust each other quickly. For students with limited language skills, these types of activities can be difficult or nerve-wracking but remember that you are not the only student in this position. A quick Google search for icebreakers can help you prepare ahead of time and partially allay your fears.
Stepping into an unfamiliar culture that is potentially very different from your own can be anxiety-provoking, but again it’s worth remembering that you are not alone. Many students go to universities all over the United States or around the world. As such, there will be many new students with diverse backgrounds, cultural traditions, and beliefs. Ultimately, it gives you a great opportunity to bond with other students and learn about different cultures and societies.
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