When a student comes to the U.S. in order to study at a higher education institution, the majority of them are exposed to culture shock.  Acculturation is a process that takes time and that is examined closely by Student Affairs Administrators.  At MSU, international students are offered a great resource within the department of student affairs called the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS).

Link to OISS : http://oiss.isp.msu.edu/

Nevertheless, the student’s transition lies beyond the great work OISS implements during Orientation; the student has to be his or her own leader and become more familiar American culture in a reasonable timeline.  Indeed, being exposed to a new culture may be troublesome and that is why I am writing this blog.

The most basic advice offered by Student Affairs professionals, in order to experience a smoother cultural transition, would be to get familiar with the U.S. sociocultural pattern before arriving for the initial semester.  This will be a head start on how to get better acquainted to the hosting institution as well as its location. Now let’s get on the psychological side of student transition.  One theory college advisors use is Astin’s theory of involvement (Alexander Astin is a Professor Emeritus of Higher Education and Organizational Change, at the University of California, Los Angeles).  His theory suggests that in order to experience a better transition, one should be more involved in the college community as an active leader, representing student organizations.  The student should also be equally active in his or her academia because it is the main reason why he or she is attending an educational institution. I personally was very involved on campus as a mentor, tutor, President of 2 student organizations, intern as well as being a student worker.

Link to international student organizations at MSU: http://oiss.isp.msu.edu/students/clubs.htm

Long story short, I would suggest all international students to be involved as much as they can and grow as a leader on MSU campus.  There are several of resources offered for the developmental process of a student and more than enough student organizations to join.  OISS is also a great resource to take advantage of considering that the International Student Advisors are always prepared to satisfy the needs of the international student community.  Don’t hesitate to adopt OISS in your radar and don’t forget, GET INVOLVED!

Mark Chung Kwan Fan is a first-year international graduate student from the island of Mauritius. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Student Affairs and Administration at MSU’s College of Education. His interests vary from Latin American culture to student affairs in the context of international education. Mark also serves as Orientation Intern at the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS).