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Updated: Oct 7, 2022

Congratulations!! Are you excited?! You must have done some planning for this, yes? But did you think of everything you might need to know? Let me help you with some suggestions 😉

You need less stuff than you think

About two weeks before I go, my mom brought me to a Russian market in Ho Chi Minh City to buy lots of winter clothes. I hardly used any of them and they were out of my closet within two years. (Sorry mom). They just weren't a good fit for Winter in Washington State. And I brought other things too that I didn't need that much. I think one of the two suitcases I packed, I didn't need one of them. I packed that much because our family was worried that the stuff in America was going to be more expensive or they wouldn't sell it. I was totally wrong about one of those things. America sells *Everything*. They sell stuff you don't know exists. But most things were more expensive here than back home. But unused things that are cheaper can sometimes be more expensive than fewer things that you will actually use. Two heavy knitted scarves at that Russian market were more expensive than one light scarf at Old Navy that I got on sale. So think about what you need and do some research on Instagram and Youtube videos to see what you might need when living in America. Buy small amounts when you do prepare and accept that you will spend the money anyway, so spend it wisely.

Money can do some serious damage

I wasted so much money...(Ah, my dark past). I wasted so much money buying things I didn't need in Vietnam and again when I first started studying in America. At first, I was exchanging US dollars for Vnd and was so shocked I spent nothing for a while. Everything was so expensive. But then I was struggling because I was lacking some things I needed and was always stressed about money. Then I stopped exchanging and things went bad the other way 😓. For all International student babies out there, please learns a few things about budgeting and money awareness. I promise you it will help you a lot when you arrive in America.

Studying in America is difficult and the school knows it

There will be a lot of time when you will need help when studying. I have one piece of advice for you:

Your house has food. You just don't know where it is - Tran😂

I have studied in three different colleges and universities, volunteered for all of their international programs, and worked in two of them in student support jobs. Do you know what is the number one regret of all the students I helped? That they didn't know something that could have helped

save them money and time had they known sooner... America's colleges and universities contain many centers and programs that are designed to boost students' success. Your tuition probably already paid for these centers so you are throwing money out the window by not using them. So how do you find them? You search and you ask. Search online, walk around school, email or call offices and ask, use any method you like. I personally think talking in person is the best because it works the best and fastest for me. When do you find them? Anytime is better than no time. Ask the minute you have a question. I will talk more about topics for each school year in later blog posts to give you some suggestions later. If you are someone who doesn't like to talk to people that much, I understand that. Just know that you are in a different country and have a lot to learn. So you either ask for people's wisdom or grow some yourself 😉. Either way, I recommend you use school resources to their full potential. Good luck!

Learn lots in class and outside of class

You pay a lot of money and spend a good amount of your time on this education so I hope that you get great results. But is spending your time studying all the time the way? Is going outside to socialize and do things the way? I think studying, going to classes, going to clubs, and groups, hanging out with friends, or hanging out alone all have benefits. It's balance and meaning that matter. When I was studying all day and working all the time in my first and second years, I had a 3.6 GPA. When I was studying half a day in my later years, I also had a 3.6 GPA. I used the other half to work, do some hobbies, hang out with some people, eat some good food, and see some nice places. And I liked my life better when I did the latter way. A regret that half of my friends and I have is not doing the things we liked sooner. Most of us were studying, then we were hanging in the same nearby mall, going to the same store, and sometimes we eat at a new place for fun.

Our activities outside of school were like bandages that we do to comfort ourselves because we thought we didn't have the time, the energy, and the money for stuff we actually like. Things like traveling, joining a club, or learning some hobbies seems like a waste of time and money for many of us. Ironically, we also wasted a lot of time and money without doing these things. So when you get to America, try to not just focus on one thing and forget others, because you are in a new environment with a lot of potentials. Traveling doesn't have to be far away and expensive. Joining a club isn't just a waste of time doing free work. A hobby isn't always a distraction from your study. Think about what kind of life you want to have and work from there. You are not just studying in America. You are also building your adult life while there.

So live like you mean it!

What do I recommend you bring?

Packing for your big trip? Here are some of my suggestions:

  • One cold weather jacket ( Check the state's weather to see how warm you need it)

  • Some summer clothing

  • Medicine ( not too much, enough for a year because the expiration date exists). In general, medicine and healthcare are complicated and expensive in America, so bring the things you need to be healthy!

  • Some dry seasoning, dry food, and snack. Foreign food is soooooo expensive here and eating American food can make you miss your usual food very quickly. So bring some dry food or ingredient to bring some comfort to tired and cold nights.

  • Transcript from your middle school, high school, and old college (The main one, not the copy). If you ever transfer to a school or go to a higher school, some schools might require these documents. So before you go, go get them translated into English and bring them to your parents doesn't have to spend money later to send this to you.

The end

That's all I have for you today. I hope the things I say can help you a little bit in your new journey. If you have any other questions, just email me or read my other blog post for suggestions and advice.

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