“Although I have traveled around the world with my family as a child, and even visited the U.S.A. several times before moving there to study, the visits did not prepare me for living and studying in the U.S.A. as a full time student.” says Vishal Eswar, who came to Rochester, NY in 2006 to study at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Insightful and introspective, Vishal speaks about his experiences in the U.S.A. and hopes that his cross-cultural lessons will be beneficial to Indians who plan to study or work in the U.S.A.. Here Vishal shares the top ten ways to make your life easier in the USA, especially for Indians who plan to study in America.
10. Understand the climate of your host city. Plan accordingly.
America’s geography and climate vary widely. The kind of clothing differs according to the location and the weather.
9. Observe and adjust accordingly.
Vishal believes that the American culture is very different from other cultures. To be accepted in America, one must carefully observe and acquire acceptable behaviors.
8. Being direct is important.
For the most part, be ‘straight up‘ and to the point at most occasions. Vishal noticed that whenever he wanted something to be done, he had to ask for it directly and not indirectly or with hesitation because people in the U.S. just “don’t get it.”
7. Make use of all the [on-campus] resources.
Vishal says “the best thing hands down is the technology, infrastructure, tools, and the opportunities you get to succeed.”
6. Be prepared in your field of study. Arrive with knowledge.
Relationships with professors are important, but will not help in determining your grades. Grades are based on merit so come prepared and study hard!
5. Take initiative to do things on your own.
International students in America will have to learn how to be self-sufficient and independent because, household chores (cleaning the house, cooking, etc), and errands (shopping, bill paying, budgeting funds, etc.) have to be done on one’s own due to the unavailability of household help and cheap labor.
4. Time management skills are critical to success on and off campus.
Students may have to take care of their household chores along with studies. They may also have a job. In such cases, it is crucial for students to budget their time and stick to a schedule to be successful and to maintain a healthy balance among all activities.
3. Be prepared to WORK HARD.
Vishal urges students to BE PREPARED to earn their grade because grades are cumulative, and assignments throughout the semester are weighed toward their final grade. Time is precious!
2. Be ready to face the challenges ahead of you.
When asked if he faced culture shock, Vishal said, “It wasn’t too shocking as it was challenging. The challenge was to balance my work schedule with my personal life. Days can get very busy/hectic. Maintaining a schedule can help us to cope with it.”
1. Believe in yourself. Stay true to yourself!
While many Indians may fear losing their Indian identity while trying to adjust to another culture, Vishal alleviates that fear by sharing, “I don’t really feel Americanized at all. I’m still 100% Indian with all my culture intact. I’m proud to be Indian! It’s not really hard to ‘be Indian’. The most important thing is to ‘believe in yourself’. You must know yourself and be prepared to present yourself in the best manner you perceive yourself to be.”
The tips are compiled by Vishal Eswar, an Indian living in the US. This article was edited by Chris Sufi, freelance editor who lives in Bangalore, India. Her personal interest in language and communication inspires her to contribute through proofreading and editing. She can be contacted here.
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