For a person coming from India, the United States of America can be a cultural shock. The huge cultural difference can be treated as an ‘experience’ and enjoyed by a tourist, who is visiting the country for a short duration. But to a student, this foreign environment is now home and he or she needs to adjust to it and manage studies alongside. A research paper published by the UCLA Mental Health Project explains that due to the cultural shock and parent-child separation, many bright international students start lagging behind in studies. To avoid this happening to you, read these tips to help you make a smoother transition.
Things to Keep in Mind for Indian Students in America
Bridge the cultural gap – As an outsider in the United States, you might feel alienated. It is a norm for the host to make a guest feel comfortable, however, to make things easier for yourself, you will need to make an effort too. Try your best to avoid cultural clashes and misunderstandings. Learn more about the culture before leaving home.
Stay in a dormitory – If this is your first time living away from home, it is advisable to live in a dormitory. These are usually well connected to their respective universities and you will not have to worry about the paying for utilities, since these are charged for in the total cost of living. Staying is a dorm, around other students, will also help you make friends faster. Read more about why you should choose the dorm life.
Understand your host – The sooner you adjust to the American way of life, the more convenient things will get. But to adjust to it, you need to understand it first. Interact with as many locals as you can, students, teachers, neighbours, strangers, and learn quickly.
Don’t forget to get insurance.
It is recommended that you get travel insurance when traveling to USA, as medical expense (even for common flu) can run into hundreds of dollars! Here are some of the best insurance for US visitors.
Overcome the language barrier – Even if you are perfectly fluent in English, understanding when an American speaks the language or making yourself understood can be quite a task. Speak slowly and clearly, and if you are unable to understand what the other person said, you can always ask them to repeat slowly. Do not be ashamed, people are usually very warm and considerate in America. You can find more help regarding the American accent in these Quora answers.
Make the most of the cultural diversity – When in the United States, Indians prefer to live in closed communities. While it does give you a sense of safety and belongingness, you end up missing out on a rich cultural experience. Interact with people from all ethnicities, this is your chance to have friends from literally all around the world. Learn more about adjusting to a new culture from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Learn to cook – Burgers and fries will soon lose their charm and you’ll be left in tears, missing “ghar ka khana.” So, learn to cook basic Indian dishes and a few of your favourite ones. Also, be sure to locate nearby Indian food stores as soon as you settle down.
Get medical insurance – To avoid those hefty healthcare bills, get yourself insured. Many universities offer insurance facilities to their students, check with your university before buying one. Also, check out medical insurance plans, tailormade for Indian students going abroad.
Being on your own can be overwhelming but it is part of growing up and you’re fortunate to be in a beautiful country like the United States. Be open to the change, welcome it with open arms and in its embrace, you will learn and grow.