As an international student who has just landed in a new country, it is important to take the necessary steps to familiarize yourself with your new environment and school. Here are 10 things you should do to ensure that your school year is off to a smooth start the minute you set foot on campus:
- Have a place to stay as soon as you arrive. With all the stress from obtaining a visa, filling out paperwork, and enduring a long flight, the last thing you want to do when you get to your new country is worry about finding a place to stay at the last-minute. Before boarding your flight, be sure to reserve a temporary place to stay such as a hotel, homestay, or with friends or family if they happen to live in the same city.
- Confirm your long-term housing. As you begin the school year, accommodation should be one less thing you have to worry about. Try to make housing arrangements before arriving, and if not, be sure it is one of the first things you do when you arrive. Most campuses in Canada and the U.S. have housing assistance for students so you can find options and roommates both on and off-campus.
- Visit the registrar and financial offices. It is always good to double and triple-check that your information with the school is correct. When you get to campus, make a visit to both the registrar and financial offices to ensure all of your information is up to date.
- Register for classes. Most schools have an orientation process where you register for classes for the semester. Once you have your semester schedule set with a list of registered classes, study your schedule and make sure to look up information on your professors as well as any materials or class work you may already have.
- Take a day to walk around campus. Most university campuses are large and can be overwhelming. Do not wait until the first day of the semester to walk around campus. Take a tour and familiarize yourself with where things are beforehand, and also practice walking to your classes to be sure you have enough time between each class to be on time.
- Attend international student events. Most schools will have events to welcome international students and it is highly recommended to attend them. By attending these events, you can meet the international student faculty, get important advice on your visa and the school, and meet other international students.
- Explore your new town and neighborhood. While you are a student, you will not be spending all of your time solely on campus. After all, it is important to take breaks and have fun too! Take some time to explore the new city you will be living in to see where all of the shops, dining, and entertainment are located. It will also help you to become familiar with the new culture.
- Make transportation arrangements. Whether you are living in a large city with public transportation or in a small town, knowing how you will travel around is important to figure out before the school year. This is especially the case if you will be using a car as your primary mode of transportation as you will need to obtain a car, acquire insurance, and do all of the necessary paperwork.
- Meet with important people in your department of study. Networking with faculty and staff, especially those in your field of study, is beneficial for both your time at school and your career. You want to be sure important people at the school know who you are so you have an academic support system.
- Speak with representatives from career services. If you are hoping to participate in a work-study program or if you are looking for a part-time internship to gain experience, be sure to visit your career services office to help you secure a job. It is good to do this ahead of time as the start of school can be busy and you will want to be sure to have a set schedule before your first day.
Remember to take your time adjusting to your new country of residence. Following the 10 tips above will help you have a more productive start to the school year and become familiar with your new environment. Do not forget to read other articles on the WES Advisor Blog for more tips for international students!