Being an International student at IUHolly Dodds
From one side of the Atlantic Ocean to the other. That was the move I made almost exactly a year ago. I moved from Belgium to Indiana just a week before the first day of classes at IU. I thought I had readily prepared myself for what was in store for me, but I still had some culture-shock when I arrived. Sometimes you have to experience something to really find out just how it works, but just in case you are international, or even just new to the area, there are some things you may want to know.
Things I found out my first week:
- Every single person at IU loves America, and may start chanting America at any given time, for no reason whatsoever. Join in.
- When meeting someone, do not kiss them on the cheek. They will look at you weird, and maybe even judge you. A handshake (or if you’re very friendly, a hug) will suffice.
- American Police Officers really do pull you over for speeding, and you really will get a ticket. Looking back on it, my parents did warn me, and looking back on it, I REALLY wish I had listened.
- There are a lot of international people at IU! Just at orientation I met 5 others from the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Scotland and Switzerland. Finding connections like that helped a lot when I was feeling homesick. There also is an International office on campus, and even a few clubs!
- Saying where you moved from is probably the biggest conversation starter. Ever.
- Tipping is an actual thing, and at every restaurant you are expected to tip around 15%. My friends, who have worked as waiters or waitresses, have made this all too clear for me and the fact that I’m “foreign” and a “poor college student” apparently isn’t an acceptable substitute.
- No one is standing at your doorstep the first day of classes to show you where to go. However, while walking (and most likely getting lost on your first trial) ask anyone and they will probably know and direct you on where to go.
- Welcome Week exists and will forever be one of the greatest weeks of your life. Parties, activities, meeting new people, syllabus week…what’s better?
Probably the greatest thing I found out though, was that IU is amazing. People welcome you no matter where you are from, and there is always something going on campus. Meeting people; whether it be from your floor, classes, or while getting lost, is so easy that after a week it’s hard to believe you have only been there for such a short time. I have made great friends, and even better memories in my first year there. Starting a new school and moving away from home can be difficult, no matter if you’re international or not, but IU really makes the transition the easiest it can be. There are so many others going through exactly the same feelings you are, so you never feel alone.