College is one of the most important experiences in any individual’s life. During your college years, you discover your passions and interests. You start trying to answer one important question: “What is my purpose in life?”
Getting involved in the activities and clubs is a great way to find the answer to this question. It can also help you plan your life after graduation. But, for many international students, choosing the best activities and groups to join can be a stressful decision.
Below is some advice for getting involved in social activities on campus.
Learn About Your School Before Arriving on Campus
If you want to avoid extra stress when you arrive, you need to get to know your new school before leaving home. Start by developing an action plan to follow during your college years. While you can do some research on your school’s website, try digging deeper for current and past students’ tips on Reddit. For example, you might find information about meal plans, class requirements, and campus life on your school’s “subreddit.”
Join Your School’s Social Media Pages
In many places, such as China and parts of the Middle East, the internet is filtered. Students have access to a limited number of websites and social media platforms. However, the internet is open and uncensored in North America. Social media is popular with college students, and it’s a great way to connect.
You might want 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.
Although many international students assume that their school will notify them of events taking place on campus, there is plenty to discover on your own. Be proactive to discover the full range of social activities taking place on and around campus.
Follow Your Passion When Choosing Student Clubs
Universities in the U.S. host “student fairs” two to three times per year on campus. During these events, most of the student organizations at the school gather in a central place to promote their groups and activities, and to encourage other students to join them. By attending the student fair, you get to know your school’s full range of social activities. You are likely to gravitate toward a few that spark your personal interests. There might also be a few you’re surprised by and want to learn more about. 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 a student in a new country, you might face feelings of isolation once in awhile. It’s important to seek support from school administrators and guidance counselors if you are feeling depressed. They are likely to tell you stay involved with your social activities rather than retreating, which can make you feel more alone. If you have any questions about what more you can be doing, do not be afraid to ask your academic adviser. You can also reach out to alumni or upperclassmen about their college experience and ask for ideas to help you enjoy your time more.
Think Outside of the Box
Many people believe that students should only be involved in activities related to their major. 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. If you’re a math major, do not be afraid to join the hip-hop class that interests you. If you’re in the liberal arts, find a research lab that accepts novices. These will give you a more well-rounded experience in college and prepare you for a more successful professional and social life once you graduate.
Hopefully, these tips will help ease your transition to college in North America!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of World Education Services (WES).