College is one of the most important experiences in any individual’s life. During your college years, you discover your passions and interests. College can also help you find the answer to the following question, which most people have pondered: “What is my purpose in life?”
Getting involved in the activities and clubs that your college offers is a great way to find the answer to this question and begin to plan your life after graduation. But, for many international students, choosing the best activities and groups to join can be a stressful decision. Below I have provided my advice for getting involved socially on your campus.
Learn About Your School and Major Before Arriving on Campus
This recommendation might not seem important, but if you want to avoid any post-arrival stress, you need to get to know your new school and develop an action plan to follow during your college years. While you can do some research on your school’s website, I recommend digging deeper for current and past students’ tips on Reddit. You can find this information, as well as details regarding your meal plan and the dining options on campus, the pros and cons of certain classes, and what life is like in general as a student, on your school’s Reddit page.
Join Your School’s Social Media Pages
In many places, such as China and parts of the Middle East, the internet is either filtered or students have access to a limited number of websites and social media platforms. However, in the U.S., the internet is open and social media is popular with college students.
Therefore, I encourage you to set up a Facebook or Instagram account (if you have not already) because being active on social media will expand your social life in college and help you adjust to the lifestyle and culture in a new country. Most students follow each other on social media in the U.S. By following other students at your school, you will find out about free events (and free food) in your city and on campus.
I know many international students assume that their school will notify them of events taking place on campus via email. But I always tell other students that emails from your school will not contain all the activities and functions that are happening on campus. You will find out about a wider variety of events taking place through social media.
Follow Your Heart and Dreams When Choosing Student Clubs
Universities in the U.S. host a large event called a student involvement fair two to three times per year on campus. During this event, which usually lasts three to five hours, most of the student organizations at the school gather together in a central place to promote their groups and activities, and to encourage other students to join them. By attending the student involvement fair, you get to know your school’s social aspect and you learn about opportunities that you can take advantage of as a student. Never be afraid to sign up for a group or club that you think you will enjoy. After all, you only live once!
Do Not Be Afraid to Ask for Help
As an incoming student to a college in a new country, I encourage you not to feel alone. There is a stigma that international students do not receive support from school administrators regarding social involvement on campus and possible opportunities for reaching their academic goals. As a student with experience in this field, I can assure you that this is not true. If you have any questions, do not be afraid to ask your academic advisor or even upperclassmen about their college experience.
Throw Your Hat in the Ring and Think Outside of the Box
The sky is the limit is my philosophy about student involvement. Many people believe that as a student in a specific major you should only be involved in activities related to your major during college. This is not true. You are limiting yourself if you only participate in activities that are similar to your major because life is multi-dimensional. Do not be afraid to join the hip hop class that interests you or a research lab that you have a passion for, even if these activities are completely unrelated to your major.
I hope these tips help ease your transition to college!