You can adjust to the U.S.

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You can learn new customs, make new friends, and do well at the university. It may not be easy, but you can do it.

As an international student studying in America, you may experience one or more of these:

  • Struggling to fit in and make new friends in America
  • Difficulty in communicating in English
  • Problems with transportation
  • Unsure of how to manage everyday tasks
  • Higher levels of stress
  • Loneliness

You have been separated from friends and family in your home country. It's easy to understand why so many international students feel so lonely.

You were probably well respected in your home country due to your intellectual ability, academic achievements, family, or social status. Few people you meet in America will know about your background or abilities. You will be starting relationships with very little context. New acquaintances won't know who you are, what you've done, or what you are capable of.

In his 1984 book, "Two Years in the Melting Pot", Liu Zongren described his painful experience as a Chinese student in Chicago. His story is just as relevant as though it were written yesterday:

“I knew my misery came not only from missing my family, but also from the frustration of being unable to learn (in English). People in Beijing must be thinking I was enjoying myself here in the richest country in the world. Yet I was suffering, not because people in America were rejecting me, but because they didn’t understand me and didn’t seem to care how I felt—and because I didn’t understand them, either. After my three classes each day, I wandered around the campus like a ghost.”

4 ways to make your adjustment to America smoother:

1. Expect difficulties: Even before you left your home country you knew it would not be easy to come to the U.S. to study, but you accepted the challenge! What you did not know was just how hard it could be. You may be surprised by the many difficulties you are facing, especially if you've only been here a short while. Be patient. It will take to time to adjust.

2. Remain Confident: Back home you were probably a rather confident person. With all these adjustments you are facing it is easy to lose that confidence. You may be feeling more uncertain of yourself than ever. Don't let other's opinions of you define your identity. Don't let your surroundings change who you are. Remember who you are!

3. Find friends you can be honest with: There are many students at your campus that are going through the same struggles as you. Join groups on campus that exist for international students. You will find excellent friends in these groups. They will understand you. You will understand them.

4. Try new things: Take advantage of your new opportunities. Meet students from around the world. Make friends with Americans. Experience American life: athletic events, campus activities, movies, restaurants, and various forms of entertainment. Grow intellectually, socially, and spiritually. Do not violate your personal values; be true to whom you are and how you were raised, but broaden your horizons and experiences. It is the "chance of a lifetime" as we say in America.