Guest Post By Brijesh Nair
Original Post here.
International students who come here for graduate studies find themselves in a totally different environment than they are used to back in their home country. Here is a comprehensive list of what you need to know when you come for graduate studies in US.
Assignment: Once a semester starts, a graduate student shall be doing at least one assignment a week. Most of the assignments may not be that easy as your undergraduate assignments back in your home country. Again if one starts working on it just the day before the submission, one may not finish it in time. For most of the courses, assignment plays a big role in the overall grades.
Bike: Bike or the bicycle is most probably going to be your mode of transportation during your study days in US. It is the cheapest and the fastest vehicle available for a graduate student to go from one point to another.
Credit Card: Your best friend in times of economic stress during your graduate studies. At least once during your studies you may be forced to use the credit card. Always remember one thing – if you don’t use it wisely it would land you in trouble forever.
Dollar: The scarce commodity in the hand of a graduate student. Always try to make both ends meet with whatever you have.
Exams: An integral part of the courses you take. Professors will be testing your practical knowledge rather than your theoretical knowledge as you are used to India. Initially you may find it tough but within few weeks you will get used to the system.
Fast Food: At least once in a week you shall be eating from either Burger King or Taco Bell or McDonalds – the reasons – you are too lazy to cook or you don’t have time to go home for lunch; whatever be the reasons the result of eating from these fast foods will show up on your body in a year or so as you start gaining lots of weight.
Google: Your life as a graduate student revolves around Google. Google has answers for many of your problems
Hourly Job: The first thing a graduate student starts looking for once he/she lands in US – some are lucky to get an hourly job that can pay for the day to day expenses.
Internship: Getting an internship is the dream of any gradate student. In addition to a good pay, an internship offers real time experience that will be very helpful in the job search after your graduation.
Jobless: When you come to do your graduate studies be prepared for the worst case – not getting any job during the extended period of your studies. The key here is not to loose hope and keep searching.
Kitchen: Never ever cooked in your life time? OK, things are about to change. You will be cooking food on your own or else you cannot survive on the money you make as a student.
Laundry: You wash your own clothes in the laundry machines in the apartment. It might be a new experience for a few.
Manage: Very important factor to succeed. You may have to do so many things (study, hourly job, cooking etc) at the same time and one has to be a good “manager” to succeed in all those.
Night Out: You may have experiences of “Night Out” during your undergraduate studies. But now be prepared for many more “Night Outs” especially during the last few days of the semester.
OPT: OPT or Optional Practical Training is the work permit with which you can work without a visa for a year for all graduates and for 29 months for some graduates (graduates of STEM). OPT process has become complex over years and you will be talking a lot about it starting few months before your graduation.
Party: Graduate study is not all about studies, it is also about parties. Friday and Saturday nights are meant for partying and you are going to have a lot of fun during these parties.
Quality: Whatever it be – studies, hourly jobs or exams or assignments it is the quality of the work that matters. Always strive to produce quality work and rest assured that you will be coming out with flying colors.
Room Mates: Don’t even think of staying in an apartment on your own when you come here for graduate studies. You may have to share a room with one or two or three others depending on the location of the school and your financial conditions.
Soda: You start drinking soda more than water. In some shops it is cheaper than buying drinking water.
Travel: Spring and summer break (total of 4 months) are for travel. You have lots of places to visit in the US and this is the right time to go. A nice way to spend time away from school and studies.
USCIS: US Citizen and Immigration Services or USCIS is the agency where you need to send all your documents for processing your visa and other immigration papers. You will be hearing a lot about this during your study days in US.
Visa: You will be force to think/talk about this almost every day you are in US. The F1 visa status places a lot of restrictions on students and you will be reminded of your visa status during your entire stay in US.
Walmart: One stop shop for all your shopping needs. You get almost all the stuff you need and more importantly at a very low price.
Yardstick: You should be keeping a yardstick for yourself all through your studies and see that you achieve those yardsticks. If you cannot, you should look back and see why you could not meet them.
Zest: The most important thing – the zest or enthusiasm to accept the challenges you face during the graduate studies and zest to overcome it. If you have that zeal everything else will fall in place.
Thank you for sharing your insight, Brijesh.
Cross cultural adjustment books and resources:
Culture Shock! USA
Living in the U.S.A., Sixth Edition
Studying Abroad/Learning Abroad
Accent of Success, The: A Practical Guide for International Students.
International Students Introduction to Life in America
Test Taking Trials and Tribulations in India- An American Studying in India
Video Tutorials on Adjusting to Life in America as a College Student/Expat:
International Students in USA Tutorial Intro
International Students in USA - Chapter 1
International Students in USA - Chapter 2
tags: "indian students abroad", "students abroad", "culture shock", "cultural adjustment", "cultural competency", "international students", "international students orientation", orientation, "life in america","graduate students",america,"study in america","student life america","student life","college life","university life"