THRIVING IN THE USA: Tips for Indian Students (pt. 4)

Heyo! Where the ✨ Indian students ✨ at??

I asked my friend, Mohit Jangid, to write some tips for you. Mohit is a Computer Science and Engineering PhD student at Ohio State University. He came to the U.S. to get mastery in his field of study and to expose himself to a different culture.

Stay tuned for his great tips, even for those who aren’t Indian!

All you, Mohit! 👏👏👏

1) Open your mind 🧠

Being part of Indian culture, we may have many inherent assumptions. In your stay here, these assumptions might be challenged; so stay open-minded, curious, and humble to avoid extreme culture shock.     

2) Learn from the culture 🤓

Other cultures have a lot to teach and share. It could be challenging to interact and socialize with other cultures, but with intentional effort and consistency, it’s possible!

I have a story related to this. Before coming to the States, my conversational style was more direct and less polite. Saying “please” and “thank you” wasn’t a big part of Indian culture. Back home, we’re more used to understanding these expressions from others’ actions rather than spoken words. Sure enough, in my initial days here in the States, I got some angry emails from a senior colleague and my department staff who told me to watch my tone and how I spoke. I gradually learned to be more polite and also understood how it came about in American culture. I learned that in the grand scheme of things, politeness in everyday conversation nurtures care and empathy among peers.  

3) Get involved 🎭

Along with your studies, you will find many opportunities to grow in non-academic areas. If you can’t find things of interest, ask your university leaders or any IFI staff/volunteer.  

4) Be aware of the food 🥫

Educate yourself about food labels in the USA. The food industry processes a lot of grocery foods, so try avoiding chemicals and preservatives. 

5) Take care of your health 🧘‍♀️

Especially in health and nutrition, most recommendations on websites are based upon Americans, whose physical metabolism works slightly differently than us Indians. Therefore, not all recommendations will apply to you.

Coming from a middle-class family, I couldn’t spend much on my food in the States. I didn’t buy a variety of foods in my first year here, which resulted in dealing with an upset stomach and plunging into food cravings. Trying to solve these problems using online health articles unfortunately didn’t help much. Most searches recommended eating a good amount of protein; however, we never ate too much of it in our Indian diet, especially if vegetarian. As such, our Indian bodies evolved to live well without needing too much protein. After a lot of help from counseling services, nutrition coaching, meditation practices, and support from IFI friends, I eventually learned and adapted, gradually getting back into a healthy relationship with food. 

6) Take advantage of university resources ⚙️

Universities have special departments for subjects related to academia, finance, health, career, etc. They usually organize orientation and awareness events in your early college days, so you won’t want to miss those opportunities as they’ll help you be prepared for your studies.

During my first few years, I discovered new things about the services the university offered to students; upon discovering them, I always wished I had known about them earlier. Here are some things I was involved with:

  • Environmental wellness through various OSU awareness programs and Environmental Network Professional Group
  • Creative wellness through painting and crafting events organized by OUAB at OSU
  • Career wellness through students’ career panel talks, Engineer Career Services, and Buckeye Career at OSU
  • Leadership development by taking part in student organizations, such as IFI, Meditation Club, and Student Leadership Advocates
  • Volunteering in community service and events organized by IFI and OSU
  • Mental Wellness through dozens of OSU/non-OSU resources and physical activity classes
  • Spiritual wellness through spiritual discussions with IFI staff and receiving a loving and caring experience from many IFI friends

Growing in the non-academic dimensions hasn’t only prepared me for the future, but also helped me thrive in my academics.

7) Just ask! 🙋‍♂️

Your university and IFI leaders are knowledgeable about the common concerns international students face. Even if you think you know the solution to your problems, just ask– you may be surprised with a better solution!

I speak from personal experience. In my first semester of classes, I ended up enrolling in very hard, advanced-level classes. I didn’t realize the complexity of the classes until a few weeks later. By then, I didn’t have the liberty to change/drop the classes. I kept it from my family back in India because I didn’t want them to worry about me. I didn’t even talk about it to my academic advisor because I was unaware of an advisor’s role; there was no such thing as an “academic advisor” in my undergrad school back in India. I wish I knew where to seek help. I ended up bearing the burden by myself, and somehow, I made it to the end of the semester. So for those who may be struggling, don’t bear the burden on your own! Get educated on what resources are available to you and don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

8) Be aware of your rights 📜

You have many surprising rights as a student and as a house tenant in the USA, so be aware of them!

9) Prep for jobs/internships 📝

Jobs and internships work differently in the USA. Go to related university departments and prepare yourself early.

SWITCHING OVER– Mariana here! 🇧🇷

What did you think of these tips?

I particularly think that Mohit did a great job!

He brought tips related to many areas of a student’s life, which are challenges when we’re in a new culture. Mohit also left some helpful links for the wellness of The Ohio State University students.

Here they are:

What about the rest of you Indian students? Do you have any additional tips for your Indian friends? Any personal stories you’d like to share? I’d love to know, so feel free to share in the comments below!

See you in the next post! Or in other words, फिर मिलेंगे in Hindi! 😉👋

About the author