Coming to a US college as an international student can be very intimidating at the beginning. You have to get used to the language, culture and even the eating habits of the new environment. But this journey can also be very exciting and rewarding because you learn more about yourself and the world every day. Now as a senior in college and looking back at my Denison experience, from feeling overwhelmed to mastering all the campus offices and resources, I think open-mindedness, courage to try new things, and time management skills really helped me assimilate into college life.
Keeping an open mind can help you meet new friends and try new things. College is a place where your traditional beliefs can be challenged and your new potentials can be discovered every day. You will meet people who share different values or views than you, but everyone has something to offer. Friends that I met at Denison are from all over the US and even across the world. For example, my roommates are from Ohio, Vermont and India, and it’s always easy for us to jump into a great conversation about campus issues, current events or even philosophical questions. Listening to other people to understand their viewpoint and looking at things from other perspectives can be helpful in making new friends or understanding yourself and the world.
Jump out of your comfort zone, try new things and meet new people. College is much different from high school in that you have a lot of freedom to make your own choices. As an international student, you have stepped out of your comfort zone the minute you land on the soil of the United States. Denison University, like many other schools, has orientation for international students, which helps you adjust to American college lifestyle. Through this orientation you will make friendships that last a lifetime. But this is not the time to stop meeting new people. Try joining organizations and talk to people you have never met before or take classes that you thought you would not be interested in. Embrace the abundant opportunities that a college campus can provide you.
Having great time management skills also helps you better assimilate into college life. Schedules in college are very flexible compare to that of high schools, at least Chinese high schools. There is no one telling you when you should go to bed or when you should do your homework. At first I thought there was a lot of free time in my schedule, but soon enough I was overwhelmed with the amount of academic work, extracurricular events, campus jobs, and social commitments I had. Getting involved is a great thing, but a balance of academics, social life and staying healthy is crucial in gaining success in college in the long run.
Transitions from high school to college are challenging and astounding, even truer for international students. But with a right mentality and time management skills, this journey of college will be an inspiring and unforgettable one.
Luchen is majoring in economics and minoring in mathematics. She is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and Omicron Delta Epsilon, international honors society for economics. She learned Spanish and was able to volunteer teaching English to children for a service program in Costa Rica.