Tips on adjusting to university life as an international student


You are here now so be prepared to live the life! But first off, congratulations and welcome– you made it to university. Some may call it the beginning of adulthood but I call it ‘the phase’–because you still get to have so much fun but in there, somewhere, there are ‘responsibilities.’ So buckle up and prepare for the new life ahead.


photo of three people jumping on ground near bare trees during daytimeBe aware and stay connected

One way to easily adjust to your new-found life is to be aware of the things and happenings that go on around you. This way you will be well-informed and know your left from your right.

Don't be afraid to ask questions because that's what really helped me.

Whenever you feel uncomfortable asking random people questions, just ask yourself, 'what's the worst that could happen?' And really it is nothing. People don't bite, so there is absolutely no reason to be scared. You will get to meet new people and socialize with the locals and other foreigners in your neighborhood and school.

By staying connected, you not only build your connections and form new relationships that will hopefully last, you also establish your network. And as they say, ‘your network is your net-worth.' So next time when you’re asked, “hey, are you going for the trivia night at the pub?” your response should be, “yeah totally, see you guys there.”


Have a routine

person checking the time on their watch

Telling you to have a routine might sound cliché, but it totally works and you should try it.

Having a routine helps you plan out your entire day and you will know exactly what to do and when to do it.

You will not be left wondering what you have to do when there are probably a million and one things you need to do just waiting for you to attend to them.

I can personally testify. 


Write things down – you will forget

person writing bucket list on book

Learn to write things down or you will forget–it is a promise. Even if it's not a full day routine with specific times of the day assigned to specific tasks, little steps can help you stay organized. 

You may think ‘oh this is a very important thing for me to do and there is absolutely no way, I repeat no way, that I am going to forget to do it.’ You will forget.

So get into the habit of writing things down. Either on your cellphone or on a planner as soon as you remember them so you do not end up feeling lost and overwhelmed when everything piles up and is all up in your face.

It will also keep you organized and responsible. I mean, who doesn't like the feeling of being responsible.


Budget/financial planning

As a university student, being independent comes with a lot of responsibilities and bills. So you have to learn to budget your spending. Eat out once in a while not three times a day, every day of the week or your money will be gone.

Remember: you do not have to have what everyone else has or what is trending because seriously nobody cares. Do you really need trainers that glow in the dark? Or do you actually need four colors of the exact same shirt just to have variety? Yeah I didn’t think so.

Always, always buy things that you absolutely need and not things that you want or think you need.person with a fan of money

Learn the difference. person counting money

Think of every single purchase you make as an investment and spend shrewdly not injudiciously.

Be prudent in your spending so when the bills come,  you are able to pay and not online searching for the side effects of eating so much noodles in order for you to be able to pay the bills.


Attend lectures, take notes and listen

The main goal of you coming to university was to gain knowledge and acquire skills, so why skip lectures? Depending on the type of person you are, pick lecture times that are suitable and comfortable for you. If you are an early bird and can handle morning lectures, go for them. If you are a night owl and feel more productive at night, pick the evening lectures.

person taking notes at a table

When in lectures, take your own notes because no one understands you like you. If your professor says things one way and you understand it another way, make your notes in the way you would understand them. You don’t have to write down every single word that the professor utters.

On the flip-side,  it is great to once in a while to keep the pen down and actually listen.

Pay attention to the information being delivered to you. Trying to grasp all of the information and writing really fast does not help you. Your fingers won’t thank you and you don’t get an award for being the best note-taker.

Let there be balance between note-taking and listening because at the end of the day, the only thing that matters and the most important thing is understanding.


Find your zen – Give yourself time to adjust

To be able to adapt and thrive in any environment, you have to be physically and mentally healthy. Take time to relax. Take a step back when things start to feel overwhelming.

Find a place you can go to relax or just de-stress. A place where it is just you and your thoughts disconnected from the world.

Believe it or not, your brain sometimes needs a break.

Not just when you sleep but also during certain times of everyday.

Everything needs time. Find your zen and be at peace. Don’t wear yourself out; just breathe.


Explore your surroundings

As everything will still be new to you, it is great idea to explore your surroundings. Don’t just take the bus or drive to your destination every time. Some days, take walks around your city.

young person exploring

Walking more will help you discover new places and even sometimes places that will become your favorite spots.

You could also get some exercising done in the process. Now tell me that's not a win-win!


Get to know your professors

Knowing your professors has its benefits. Not only do you build your student-professor relationship, you could also get advice and insights on your field of study from your professor.

Some professors may even share experiences with you and give you great tips. That way you’ll know what to look out for in your course of studying.

people shaking hands at a table

They can also give you recommendations in the future and sometimes help you connect with other professors and faculty members.

When certain opportunities pop up, you will be one of the first people they will reach out to because of the bond you have with them. You want to be one of those people so be smart!


and breatheand lastly...

Yeah high school was fun and all but be prepared for a totally different ball game. University is fast-paced and challenging; finding your balance between work (studying) and leisure (fun) is a major key. You can do it.

If you think or feel there are more ways of coping and adjusting to university life, feel free to share your tips and tricks down in the comments. You just might help a soul today!


Interested in learning more about our programs available to international students? Download our viewbook to get more details!

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