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4 Adjustments International Students in the US Face

Posted on May 19th, 2017 by Yessica Prato

Part of being an international student is getting involved with the culture and customs around you. Customs and traditions differ from place to place. However, in the United States you will notice an incredible amount of diversity. Whether it’s the different people or the extreme changes in weather as you fly from New York to Miami, there is a place for all. Here we will talk about some adjustments international students will face in the United States.


Back in time
The majority of international students that come to the US are generally between the ages of 18 and 29 years old. If you are 21 or older, then you are one of the lucky ones. However, if you are 20 years old and under unfortunately, you will be considered under age for many things. You cannot rent a car on your own unless you are willing to pay extra fees and your car insurance is generally more expensive too. Also, even though you may have been allowed to drink alcohol in your home country, unless you are 21 years old, you will not be able to purchase or consume alcohol legally while in the US.  


Sports… enough said.

Sports are a very important part of society in the United States. Whether you like watching sports, participate in them, or simply enjoy the pre and post-celebration atmosphere, there’s something for everyone when it comes to sport in the US. You will be dragged to at least one game during the year by your new friends. American football season starts in the Fall. It’s closely followed by basketball season in the Winter and finally baseball in the Spring. College games are just as competitive as professional games, and everyone, including professors, will be ready for game day.

If you are one of those people that never cared for sports, don’t worry! You are definitely not alone or out of the fun. In the United States, game day festivities start as early as 5 hours before the actual game begins, especially during football season. Tailgating is a pre-game tradition in many college campuses around the country. It involves getting to the stadium’s parking lot early with friends, setting up your grill, bringing some coolers (with adult beverages of course), playing loud music, and getting excited for the game.


So much food!

This is true for almost every dining hall and restaurant you go to. The portion sizes in the United States are probably ones of the largest in the world. If you stay at the residence halls in your university, most likely you’ll have a meal plan. Whenever you go eat, you’ll soon realize how much food restaurants serve! At the beginning, it will seem like you can barely finish a plate of food. But by the end of the semester you’ll proudly finish two plates and even have dessert. If you go out to a restaurant, beware of what you order or else you’ll have leftovers for days. And yes, people take their leftovers home!

Another of those strange things that will shock international students is the massive amount of ice all beverages come with. On the upside, most places give you free refills!


Hot and Cold

When I lived in Kansas, in May it could be snowing in the morning and then by the end of the day I would be in shorts. It’s very hard to track the weather in the United States. You will need to prepare for the sudden changes at any moment. While Texan schools may close when they get one inch of snow, you’ll need at least 15 inches in Michigan to have a snow day.

It’s impossible to geographically describe the United States too. Make sure you research the areas around your school. You’ll be shocked if you come from a big city and realize that your university is located in a small rural town two hours from the closest city. And yes, distances like those are very normal here.


Studying in the US will reveal some strange challenges and traditions. Don’t be shy to join in the celebration after your school’s team beats their rivals on game day! And make sure to always keep a jacket and some sandals handy! The United States will be an experience that you will not regret, the melange of cultures is what makes the US such a unique place for international students.

Written by Yessica Prato

Yessica joined the team in 2016. Originally from Colombia, she migrated to the United States in 2005 with her family. While living in Kansas, she attended Kansas State University. Her interest in education and international studies along with her experience in bilingual customer service led her to EIC. She has also had the opportunity to travel to Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia. When not in the office, you'll find her immersed in a good book or with her dogs at the beach.

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