Coming to America as an exchange student can be both exciting and overwhelming. You shouldn’t worry, there has been millions of students before you that have made this same journey. The experiences you’ll have will be like no other! You will learn new things, try new foods, and make new friends. We’ve got some tips to help your time in America be the most fulfilling.
#1 Research Where You Want To Go
The United States has a lot of….States. 50 of them to be exact (with a few territories thrown in too). Each state is vastly different from the other. Consider climate, culture, and your personality type when choosing a place to go. Do you like the beach? Then you should go someplace warm, like in the south (Florida, South Carolina, or Texas) or out west to California. A small town in the middle of Utah will have a different culture than New York City. Do you like a bustling city or a quiet rural community? Ask yourself these questions and then research places in America based off of your desires. If you tailor your environment to be a place you’ll like, then you’ll start off on the right foot when you get there.
#2 Make Friends Right Away
Making new friends in a new country can be scary. But here’s a secret, Americans are fascinated by foreign exchange students! This is mostly because many Americans haven’t left the country. You have the chance to share your cultural differences with each other. Research after school clubs and sports teams you can join. That’s a quick way to meet new people. Finding other foreign exchange students can help you bond about the same experience. Try your best to get out of your comfort zone!
#3 Study The Culture
Chances are, American culture will be different than yours. To avoid any confusion or misconceptions, learn about American culture beforehand. Watching American movies might not give you an accurate depiction of what everyday life in America is. Here are a few random pointers: we generally tip 20% at restaurants, use the imperial system for measurements, smile at strangers on the street (we like to smile a lot), thumbs up is good and middle fingers are bad, we like our personal space, we serve large portions of food, and we tend to be loud. The exciting part about all of this is that you get to experience it firsthand!
#4 Pack Smart
While you’re abroad, you’ll most likely go through a few seasons while you’re in America. Bring a jacket for the winter if you’re going somewhere cold like Wisconsin. Bring photos or knick knacks from home that will help when you’re homesick. Think of things that will help you make the experience easier. Like your favorite pillow, blanket, or pair of shoes. Being prepared will make you feel confident and at home, even if you’re thousands of miles away from it.
#5 Buy Travel Insurance
Healthcare in the USA is expensive, really expensive, you never know what could happen while you’re adventuring abroad. You could be playing a sport and break an ankle. You could be hiking in The Rockies and fall down. You could get hurt walking across a busy street in New York City. Bad things can happen anywhere (Read about this couple who was held hostage in a hospital for an unpaid bill). And while bad things are a headache to deal with, having travel insurance will put your mind at ease. Our travel insurance is great and affordable for your time abroad.
Life is short, stay safe and get the most out of it. Happy traveling abroad!