Tips Before You Go to the U.S.

The U.S. is a very welcoming place for Indian students. Each U.S. university has an international student services office with trained counselors available to answer your questions and guide you through the process of adaption to U.S. university life. The international student services office also organizes a variety of regularly schedule events for international students. Many U.S. campuses also have Indian student associations, which also organize events on a regular basis.

For more information on preparing to study in the U.S. and adapting to U.S. campus and academic life, see:

Here are some tips from the EducationUSA offices on how to have a successful U.S. university experience:

Living as a foreigner: You will be living in the US as a foreigner in a new culture. This is very different from living in India as a native citizen. You will often have to make efforts to bridge the cultural gap between you and other students to avoid cultural misunderstandings. Always stay calm and collected and be willing to listen.

Living comfortably while studying: Indian students usally have the option of living in dormitories (similar to a hostel system in India) or in private accommodations. Wherever you stay, we advise you to live close to your university or near a university shuttle bus or metro station. Dormitories can be a good option because you will not have to worry about maintaining your rooms and will not have to pay utility bills for gas, water, and electricity.

Medical insurance: International students are required to have medical insurance and many universities offer their own medical insurance services. Consult your university’s international student services office to research your options. Without medical insurance, it is almost impossible to get treated by a doctor in the U.S.

Conversing with American people: International students can learn about American culture, history, and traditions by talking to American students and professors. Remember to speak slowly and clearly when speaking to Americans. Indians tend to speak faster than an average American and it can sometimes be difficult for Americans to understand Indian accents. Speaking slowly and clearly will resolve this communication barrier.

Developing cross-cultural networks: In the U.S., Indians often live together sharing accommodation and feel secure within their own community. While this has certain advantages, this should not come at the expense of cross-cultural ties. Make an effort to meet, work, and travel with members of other ethnicities, U.S. regions, and foreign students from other countries. The U.S. offer a great diversity of people and this is an excellent opportunity to develop global networks while learning about different cultures and traditions. Do your best to make the best use of these opportunities, both inside and outside of your academic life.

Preserving personal information - your own and others: Always protect your personal information, including social security numbers and credit card numbers. Be aware of scams that are often communicated via email, in which you may be asked for personal details, such as your social security number or credit card details. Legitimate organizations will never ask for personal information such as your ATM PIN or online banking password. Do not ask Americans to tell you their salary and other personal information. Americans value their privacy and it is best not to be too inquisitive.

Learning basic cooking: Cooking for yourself will save you money. Indian food is expensive in the U.S.! It will also satisfy your urge to eat ‘your food’ during moments of cultural shock. Before you travel to the U.S., learn how to make basic Indian foods, such as rice, daal and gravy. Indian spices are not commonly available in smaller cities, but there are often shops on campus where you can get ingredients used in most Indian food.

Shopping in the U.S.: Large shopping malls and supermarkets (i.e. Wal-Mart, Target) in the US are one-stop shops for all of your daily needs. Such supermarkets are under surveillance cameras and they often employ detectives to guard their shopping floors. Be vigilant to ensure that all of your shopping is properly billed and that you keep the bills with you at all times.