Leaving your home country to live somewhere without anyone you know is a daunting experience. There are applications to fill in and visas to apply for; once that part is over, there’s stuff to pack and goodbyes to say. Advice for this entire process can’t possibly be contained in a single blog post, but here are some tips and reminders that I, personally, think are the most important.
Throughout the entire process
Breathe. For me this process was the most chaotic period of my life (so far). There were applications and essays to hand in to numerous universities, not only in the US but also around the world. It was my final year of high school (or as we call it, secondary school). I was simultaneously preparing to take the HKDSEs which is the university entrance test of my hometown, Hong Kong, as well as the SATs and IELTS to get into US colleges. After that, there was handling the logistics of my journey to DU, and meeting up with every friend and family member I had back home. I’m sure this process will be the same, or at least similar, for you.
There will be a lot going on during that year or so, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. From someone who’s gone through the same thing, take a deep breath. Watch something lighthearted when you’re feeling stressed (Brooklyn Nine-Nine was my go-to). With anything regarding DU, ALWAYS reach out to people there whenever you’re feeling lost or panicked about the process. You may not get an immediate response due to the time zone differences, but you’ll definitely get the help you need.
Before you get here
It’s helpful to make checklists of the things you have to submit or prepare. If you’ve already been accepted to DU and have decided to come here, we have a video on our YouTube channel that highlights the steps you have to take, which will hopefully make it a bit less overwhelming. Finish each step at a time, and all will be good. Checklists are also helpful for when you pack. This helps you list out all the things you will have to bring, as well as the things you can buy when you get here. We also have a video on what to pack to DU, so make sure to check that out to make this process even easier!
I found it useful to take a lot of photos of home. I think you will too, especially if, like myself, you aren’t returning very frequently. It’s nice to have a small piece of home that you can bring with you. Don’t think too much about leaving your friends and family; it’s not as bad as you think, especially with the internet.
After you get here
Welcome to DU! You’ve already gone through the worst part of it all, and soon you’ll enjoy life in Denver. Make sure you stay hydrated and put on sunscreen; Denver is incredibly dry and sunny. Now, all you have to do is jump right into all that DU prepares for new students like you. You’ll participate in orientation, get to meet your roommate(s) and fellow residents, and start going to classes. It’s a scary thing to be doing especially as an international student, but it’s helpful to remember that everyone else is also new, and they likely don’t know anyone either. Orientation is the best time to get to know other people and possibly make lifelong friends, so go and meet your fellow DU students!
There are plenty of resources on-campus that are able to help. I would suggest you drop by or reach out to International House (I-House) if you have any questions you want to have answered. Even if they don’t have the answers for you, they are able to help point you in the right direction. They have plenty of experience helping international students navigate their transition into DU, so you’ll be in good hands. It’s also helpful to get to know your professors, or at least make sure your professors know who you are, when your classes start. This can help when you have any issues or questions in your studies, or if you want to gain extra experience in their field in the future. I was hesitant to do this at first. Luckily with the small class sizes at DU, I was able to participate a lot and from my experience, DU professors are always approachable and willing to help.
Being able to study abroad is a great privilege and is a life-changing experience. I’m sure you’ll have a great time here at DU, where you’ll be able to explore a different environment and meet new people!
Author: Ronnie Cheng
#DearWorld is a blog series that our international student ambassadors at the University of Denver share their experience, tips, and advice to other students at DU and around the world.
Learn more about other international student experiences at the University of Denver: