Updated: Oct 7, 2022
By now, you are probably on your summer vacation, either back home or in the US. Great job on finishing your first year studying abroad! So what's next? Same as last year? I don't think so 😎. New year, new goals, new challenges, and new opportunities are waiting for you when you come back from your break 😉. Here is some information I think should know about your upcoming sophomore (second) year.
Right now, the job market is highly competitive, and many employers require you to have some work experience when you graduate. So now is a good time to think about what you want to do in the future. But don't worry if you don't have any idea right now. You don't have to decide right now. But I believe that thinking about this early can help you form a better understanding of what you want later. So check your school website for student jobs. See what kind of jobs is available and if you like any of them. You can also check on what you can do now to get to the job you do like. Some jobs later require you to have certain experiences and skills.
Some of you, like me, have already applied and got a job last spring. Then this year is going to be your first year learning how to study and work, to balance two important and difficult things. But don't be afraid, you have lots of help ( me 😉 and google for example) and you have you. And I believe in you! So go study and work your best! A job is a great way to learn more about yourself and about the world around you.
Transferring to a new University?
When international students go to America, we usually have to study at the school with the right program to get us here. But after we are here, we can now choose the school with the right program and degree for our future. Some of you will stay because this school already has what you need. For others, this is a good time to think about your next place to stay and study. This decision is not as easy as you think. If you think you will naturally know where to go when the year ends, you are dreaming. If you are choosing a school that you think is good without checking more things about it or looking at other options, I hope your will is strong... The best school in my eye would be the combination of a suitable program/degree, suitable price, a suitable place to live in or near school, a suitable school environment, and a suitable state environment. That's a lot..... so picking a school that has as many of these qualities as you can is my advice.
A great program or degree is a good use of your money, can help you achieve your dream career, and can make you happy to study for a long time. Tuition costs a lot of money so a school with suitable tuition or scholarships and financial aid is always a great thing to keep in mind. For some of you, like me, this tuition can decide whether you can finish your degree or not. Although places to live are not the most important thing to worry about, you should still check out places you can live while studying. A good place to live with a good price and convenient travel to school can bring great comfort to many of you who study a lot and likes to stay home. A suitable school environment is important if your goal is to get to your goal using social connections and extra activities like clubs and organizations. The state environment is not something most students care for because it affects your living situation more than your actual study. The state environment means the living situation of the people in the state, such as how they travel (car, subway, bike, walk, ...), living expenses, and what kind of shops, stores, or activities are available.
Each of these requirements will affect your living and studying quality for the next few years. But only you can decide how much each of them will matter to you. None of the three schools I studied in have all of these. One of them has great tuition and great international support but I have to sit on buses for a long time to go anywhere. Another has a great Anthropology program and a great living environment but high tuition and living expenses. The last one has excellent resources, good tuition but a so-so program and the school is two hours away from my house...The first school taught me the basics of studying in the US. The second one was eye-opening academically and made me realize what kind of life I want to have in the future. The third one save me a lot of money (scholarships and free resources) and taught me what working in a big company feels like. So they were all good in a way.
What kind of good impact do you want your next school to have on you?
Most students will choose their major in their first semester/quarter of the third year. But that's not what I'm talking about today. What I am talking about today is your mini journey to finding the field that interests and benefits you. Major is a pretty big deal for students here. I have a separate post on my major to talk more about this. The idea is that you choose a field to study (a major), you then study it for a few years, master it, find a job or internship to work while you study, then when you graduate, you choose a job in that field. That way, you will have the necessary base knowledge and skillset to do the jobs you want in the future. This is the textbook version of the major. But in five years of college, I only knew two people who actually followed through with this plan. The rest of us... well, plans change and people change. But that's also not important. The one piece of advice I have for you here is:
Explore like you are not afraid of anything!
As I said, most people change their plans on major so right now, there is no real risk if you choose a major and find out later that it doesn't work for you. So go and explore what this country has to offer academically and professionally for you. You can take a few classes in different fields. You can go talk to a bunch of people. You can go work in the field you think you like to find out if you actually like it. You can go join any clubs or organizations that you like. You can go do all the hobbies you like but didn't have time to do before. You can try to make your hobbies into a money-making business. This is your time to play!! So go and get lost in your hopes and dreams😊 Maybe you will learn and find your way later. Or maybe, you were never lost 😉
See anything that interests you?
Of all of my suggestions, which one of these interests you? I hope my explanation was good and that it helps answer some of your questions. I also hope I was able to give you a helping hand when you need it. If you have any questions or need some peer mentoring, my email is always open for you.