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Studying in the USA

Studying at EWU as an International Student

Beginning university is difficult for everyone, but can be especially difficult for international students who must go to school while adjusting to an entirely different language and culture. You may see these differences in the classroom, in your social interactions, or even in the terms we use.  

Tips to Succeed in the Classroom

  • At EWU, class participation is often a portion of your grade. This means that you MUST contribute to classroom discussion in order to get full credit for your course work.
  • Be brave! Don’t be afraid to speak up and offer your opinion or ask questions. Your professors are taking a collaborative approach to your learning-they’ll be happy to work with you.
  • Make friends in your classes. This helps when you are trying to study for a big exam, or if you have a question about a homework problem or concept. Sometimes your professor might even assign group projects.
  • If you are having trouble writing research papers, or other types of assignments you are not familiar with, feel free to visit your professor during their Office Hours and ask questions. Or visit the EWU’s Writers' Center for help.

Terms you should know

College: American students often refer to university or “uni” as college. It is the same thing!

First-year student (also freshman): A student who has completed high school or secondary school but has not gone to any university or college

Graduate student (also graduate, grad): A student who has completed a baccalaureate degree or equivalent and wants to do advanced study in a professional or academic field. These students are usually pusuing their Master's Degree or Doctorate Degree

International student: You are an international student if you have an F-1 or J-1 visa or if you are planning to acquire an F-1 or J-1 visa. You do not have US Citizenship or Permanent Resident status

Major: A major is the acadmeic discipline to which an undergraduate formally commits. It is pretty common for students to change their major in their first two years of college.

Minor: A minor is an optional, secondary academic discipline a student can choose during their undergraduate studies.  

Premed/Prelaw: You choose either of these program if you are interested in being a doctor or a lawyer and are an undergraduate student. 

Transfer student: A high school graduate who has completed a semester or more at another college or university.

Undergraduate student (also undergraduate, undergrad): A student enrolled at a college or university who has completed a high school program/ secondary school program, but who has not yet received a college degree.

Making Friends!

  • The College experience isn’t just about school. A majority of campus life happens before and after class.
  • Make new friends! Although you may feel intimidated by many Americans, the best thing to do is just go up and introduce yourself.
  • Americans can to be rather informal in their behavior towards other people. Don’t be surprised if store clerks and waiters introduce themselves by their first names. Many people visiting the US are surprised by the informality of American speech, dress, and posture. Don’t mistake this for rudeness or irreverence; it’s just a part of our culture!
  • Get Involved! Join a club or organization about something you are passionate about. Not only is this a great way for you to make new friends, but it also looks good on job applications and resumes.
  • Take advantage of all the resources offered by OGI. We have field trips, and host Coffee Talk every week to practice English skills and celebrate diversity. 

Some Cultural Differences

  • Tipping: is a practice expected in the US. When you go to a sit-down restaurant, it is expected to leave your server a 15%-20% tip for their service. In America, these servers make most of their salary from tips, so it is extremely rude to not tip if gratuity isn’t already added to your bill
  • Jay Walking is punishable by a hefty fine. Only cross the street at designated, “zebra-striped” zones to avoid being ticketed