When trying to become an international student inside the US you might hear about the excitement and glamour of your travels to come. However, once you land on foreign soil you might realize that it’s not always as simple as others make it appear. Being an international student takes work- from completing numerous documents, learning a new language, finding extra funding and even simple tasks like making friends. With all of these extra items added to your list, where can you find some slack? Your social life might be one of the easiest items to control. Of course it will require extra effort on your part, but it will also make your time as an international student much more exciting!
So what do you need to do to put your social life as an international student into high gear? First and foremost: get involved. Getting involved can benefit you in a number of ways. It will help you make friends, immerse you into the culture of your host county, help you develop networking contacts, boost your resume and of course give you something to do between study sessions.
Each college and university will have different opportunities for students to get involved in, here are just a few options that might be available.
- Intramural sports: Whether you’ve played a certain sport your whole life or would like to try it for the first time, joining an intramural sports team is possible. Universities often offer an array of intramural sports like basketball, volleyball, soccer, lacrosse, and softball. To join an intramural team you don’t need to try out- you only need to gather a group of other individuals who would also like to play and sign up.
- Volunteer groups: Whether you’re interested in the environment, animals, or human rights, many campuses have various volunteer groups that you’re able to get involved in. If your campus doesn’t have a volunteer group you’re interested in, search throughout the local community or start your own group.
- Greek life: If you’re looking for a group of like-minded individuals to spend time with during your free time then Greek life is a good option. If your campus has Greek life then you’ll be able to explore the different societies at the beginning of the semester. However, keep in mind that joining a fraternity or sorority will require you to include monthly dues into your budget.
Student government- Whether you’re pursing politics as a career, have a campus initiative that you feel strongly about, or simply like to debate- student government is a good way to get involved and help make a difference on your campus.
Cultural clubs- Being able to relate to other international students during your time abroad is priceless. Because of this, joining a cultural club can help ease any home sick feelings. However, make sure you find balance in making friends that remind you home, and those that can introduce you to the new culture you’ve been immersed in.
Degree-related clubs- Pursing a degree in broadcast? Join the campus news station! Trying to become an actor? Make sure you try out for the next play and join the drama club. If interested in joining a club specific to your degree, visit a professor within your program and see what options are available. Not only will this allow you to socialize, but it will also be great experience and help you establish references.
Hobby based clubs: If there is a large enough interest on campus, typically a club can be started. This means your campus will have a variety of clubs available to you- from knitting to bowling to hiking. If they don’t have what you’re searching for then gather a group and start your own club.
To find out what groups your campus has to offer and how you can get involved, visit your campus activities office for more information.