32 Realities International Students Experience While Studying In The US


Many international students, like myself, take the leap of faith and leave their hometowns in hopes of a great (yet pricey) education in The Land of the Free.

It's a scary decision to leave our families behind and live in a foreign land where everything seems to be bigger. But with a large the variety of colleges and degrees, we're likely to find our dream education in the US.

But clearly, "American Pie" and "Gilmore Girls" weren't enough preparation. While our minds may be blown by physically witnessing Solo cups in colors other than red, we've learned a whole lot about how international students fare at US universities.

Here are some of the most prominent truths:

1. Professors always mispronounce your name.

And don't even get me started on Starbucks.

2. You have to pretend to know the words to the US national anthem.

Sing it like you own it.

3. Because of the time difference, you only talk to your parents when you’re way too tired.

It's early, late or you're hungover.

4. You're constantly texting with Whatsapp and Viber.

Viber stickers for the win.

5. You wake up at ungodly hours to watch your favorite local sports teams or leagues.

If you can't find it or stream it, have family and friends give you a play-by-play via Whatsapp.

6. People generally make stupid assumptions about where you are from...

7. …and a lot of them don’t even know where your home country is on a map.

8. People are confounded by your ethnic ambiguity.

It's always a long story.

9. You still get confused when trying to convert dollars to your home currency.

Luckily, you have an app for that.

10. You have an extremely large gap in your pop culture knowledge, but often just play along.

Of course, you know what they're talking about.

11. You can't handle all the choices and sales at the grocery store.

A quick trip for milk and eggs turns into an hour-long scouring of the candy bar aisle.

12. But you can never find your favorite childhood snacks or candy.

Smarties? Milka? Where can I get that?

13. Food will never be as authentic as your family’s cooking.

No matter how hard you try.

14. Football will always be the real football to you.

It’s called football for a reason.

15. You’ve become a pro at dealing with jetlag when the first day of classes comes around.

Sleeping pill? Eye mask? Jet lag app? You’re ready.

16. You have to suck up to friends to get them to take you home for Thanksgiving.

Can I stay with you?

17. You're usually the only person on campus during Easter weekend.

And you're counting down the days until everyone gets back.

18. You have to carry around your passport when you go out...

The outdated picture is your only form of ID.

19. ...and you regularly wake up the next morning with the constant fear you lost it.

Thank God you didn’t.

20. At first, you can't handle American-sized food portions…

The food coma is real.

21. ...or the abundance of processed foods and candy.

I want real food, please.

22. You don't understand what all these US holidays mean.

Columbus Day? Washington’s Birthday?

23. You have to deal with the look your friends give you when you’re on the phone with your family speaking a different language, or your accent comes out.

It gets them every time.

24. You can't go home to do laundry like all your friends can.

You have to be a grownup... kind of.

25. You naturally become best friends with other international kids, no matter where they’re from.

They understand the struggle.

26. You get a random jolt of excitement you get when you hear someone speaking your language.

You're not alone!

27. You go from having big family dinners, to eating solo.

You miss the dinner feasts.

28. Certain words, jokes and idioms don’t translate well to English.

It either comes out wrong or you can’t explain yourself at all.

29. Your appliances don’t fit into the outlets, or often break because of the different voltage.

You’ve learned to always have multiple adaptors.

30. You have to deal with the atrocity that is tax season.

What are all these forms and numbers? Who knows.

31. But that’s all OK because you have your friends, who become your second family, to help you every step of the way.

32. And ultimately, you’re thankful for all the opportunities around you, and can’t wait to see what’s in store for you next.