This exciting journey was written by Meenakshi Das- a freshman student majoring in Accounting at Mississippi State University. She is an international student from Pune, India who enjoys reading, traveling and writing in her free time.
It was the 26th of July, 2014. I felt the velocity of the aircraft increasing from 0 miles to 10,000 miles as the plane took off. I saw the huge buildings changing into miniscule objects as I bid goodbye to my home to start a new life altogether. I couldn’t believe it! After two years of preparing for the entrance tests, spending a great deal of money on books, applications, battling for scholarships, I was finally embarking a journey towards my dream. My dream of pursuing bachelors in the United States finally came true. Though a tinge of fear lingered inside my heart, I was pretty confident that I would manage well since I knew English. But this credence didn’t last for a long time. The first day of class was scary. I was in a totally different place, environment and culture for the first time in my life. When the realization hit me that I would have to spend four years of my life here, adrenaline rushed through my veins. But slowly, with the help of advisors and friends at Mississippi State University (MSU) , I became comfortable and today I enjoy my new home. I feel blessed to be surrounded by so many kind people here at my university who go out of their way to help me!
Though there is so much advice and help available, the first semester of college is always confusing because there are so many things one wants to do. There are studies, numerous organizations, clubs, etc., and it can be difficult to cope with so much stuff. Here are a few things which I feel every new international student should do in their first semester of college. Of course, everybody has their own tastes and likings, but these things are what really made my first semester enjoyable!
1. Volunteer or take part in community service: When I first landed at MSU, I had no friends. It can be hard to interact with people when one is in a new country for the first time in his/her life. But, I took part in a community service day at my university and I got to meet a lot of people who were kind and dedicated to serving their community. Volunteering and community service is quite common in the United States and it is also a very humbling experience as it provides a chance to help others and at the same time make wonderful friends. I helped clean a cemetery and even earned hours for taking part – which was wonderful! I would recommend everybody taking part in such service activities as it is an excellent way to meet good people and make friends for life.
2. Join an organization: Joining an organization is another good way to meet and interact with new people. If that organization is related to one’s major, then it is very beneficial too as he/she gets to meet lots of people with the same major which fosters networking. Organizations also arrange career fairs and field trips, fund conferences and plan study activities which can prove fun as well as useful. As an accounting major, I am part of an accounting organization which organizes a lot of activities and events on a monthly basis. Therefore, joining such organizations provides an excellent opportunity to encounter new people, alumni and potential employers.
3. Make your resume: Freshmen year is a great year to make a resume as it can open doors to on-campus jobs. Coming from a country where working in college is not so popular, I was amazed seeing the plethora of job opportunities available for students on-campus. As an international student, one is allowed to work 20 hours per week and it can help to pay some of the bills. Moreover, if that job is something related to one’s major, it can give a boost to the resume. One should make sure to get the resume critiqued by the career center at the university as it can provide a lot of free advice and help in finding a job on-campus.
4. Explore different subjects and concentrations: If one is not sure about his/her major, the first semester in college will be a great way to learn about different subjects. The liberal arts education system is something I like about the United States as I get to learn so many new things with my major. Though I am an accounting major , I am right now taking classes in Geography, World Literature and next semester I get to learn floral design and German! This is something really amazing and I feel everyone should take the opportunity of exploring such classes. If one is sure of his/her major, he/she can think about a minor that complements the major. A minor in Computer Science or a foreign language would definitely give one an edge over the others.
5. Stay focused: Moving to a new country can be an overwhelming experience and it is easy to get swayed away by many things. Therefore, staying focused is important to weed out the distractions and homesickness. One should always make studies his/her first priority – as it is why he/she has spent so much money and traveled so far, away from home. Homework and tests are given on a daily basis and it is important to get it completed on time as everything counts towards the final grade. If struggling in a course, one should never hesitate to contact the professors as they go out of way to help students.
Lastly, it is important to remember that it is ultimately hard work that will make one’s college life successful and worth the money.