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Adapting to the United States

Presented by the Wuz Up Team

Working together with several Chinese students that have had experience with moving to go to school in the US, we have put together a list of things to consider regarding the topic of attending school in the United States, or for that matter any other country whose main language is not your native language.


One of the biggest regrets we’ve heard about is that many people, upon arriving at the US, do not feel at all well prepared for beginning life here. So if you are at all considering to come to school in the US, consider the following points.


If you are able to, get to the US as early as you can. For the most ambitious students, the days of studying overseas at merely the college and graduate level are over. Now, the amount of international applicants for American high schools are skyrocketing; that’s because they all want to start here early. However, if you really want an advantage and adapt to the American culture, you might consider coming even earlier. If possible, we suggest coming as early as middle school, even elementary school. Doing so gives an opportunity to learn English and adapt to American culture well before having to deal with diffi tcult high school classes and college applications. We know that especially if you are coming to the US alone, leaving your home and your family can be very, very hard. Your family might be worried about you, and you might feel homesick at times. You may also miss important things in your native culture. But if you do have your eyes set on an American education, don’t hesitate to come maybe a little earlier. It will hurt in the beginning, but you will be grateful in the long run. That is not to say that you cannot be successful if you do not come early; you may simply find yourself pressured to work twice as hard to catch up to the people around you. But as long as you are motivated, that should not be a problem. However, if you do want the time to have the full experience of studying overseas (academic AND social), doing so a bit earlier is recommended.

To prepare to go to school overseas, we say to get as much speaking and listen practice as you can beforehand. Try to find a native English-speaker to practice with. There are many of these people, especially in China! Don’t even worry too much about taking English classes for reading and writing. What is most important if you want to attend school in the US is working on those oral communication skills! It’s also a good idea to immerse yourself into American pop culture beforehand. Some people on our team suggests playing American video games and listening to American music. Others say to watch English movies and TV shows (in fact, many people start the English learning process by watching Friends!).

But if you’re reading this, and you’re thinking, “what if I’m already in the US? It’s too late to start early!” In that case, as long as you can work hard, there is still so much that you can do to quickly adapt. For one thing, don’t be shy. If you stay quiet and in the shadows and do not try to engage in conversation, then you will never learn your communication skills! Especially if you are an introvert, it will be very hard, but force yourself to go socialize. Most Americans are very helpful and accepting, so don’t be afraid to go talk to them! Additionally, if you are an international student, many schools offer an additional English course such as ESL/ESOL to help you learn. Get to know the programs at your school, and take advantage of them! You should also consider joining clubs as they will give you an opportunity to not only find a new hobby, or continue an old one, but also help build your knowledge on the diverse American culture.


That’s all for today! If you have any further questions, please reach out to the WuzUp team! Thanks!

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