Surviving the New Academic Environment at Foreign Universities
Counselor’s Desk: Surviving the New Academic Environment
Amidst a global political scenario where several countries in the West are revisiting their immigration policies, students around the world are in the process of finalizing their university admissions to these countries. While the student visa process is just picking up;
nevertheless, getting adapted to the education system in universities in foreign locations is not easy as the pedagogy varies greatly among countries, if not among universities. Coupled with this, the cultural difference might also have a great impact on students’ emotional health, which in turn may affect their academic performance.
If you are aiming for an education abroad or in the final process of reaching your study abroad destination, the following tips may be of help to adjust to the new education system.
Know the academic policy
Universities have different academic policies with respect to their grading system, credits, examination, graduation, student conduct, etc. So, at the beginning of the program, have a thorough understanding of these academic policies. Also, it is imperative that you know the policies related to plagiarism and copyrights as the universities in the West are very strict on these parameters. The academic policy is easily accessible and available on university website.
Well planned is half done
Before you register for courses, go through the academic course schedule at your university. Universities in North America, Australia, and Europe usually draft the course calendar for the whole academic year before the academic session starts. They follow Choice Based Credit System (CBCS)unlike the cohort system followed in Indian universities. You can access your program’s course schedule from the department/ university website and draft your own course plan for the year. It is advisable to choose the courses you are more comfortable with in your initial semesters when you are yet to get the knack of new academic system.In subsequent semesters, you may want to choose a mix of easy and difficult courses to spread your course load, which in turn may help you earn good grades. Also, register for the courses well in time before the classes get filled.
Take help of advisors
Usually,once you start your program, you will be assigned an academic advisor who will not only help you in understanding your academic program but also in finalizing your graduate plan. Please ensure that you meet your academic advisor at the beginning of each semester to seek right guidance. that you.
Counselling and tutorial services
Student counseling services are a vital part of Office of International Student Services (OISS)that are essential for both mental and academic well being of international students. Universities also have professional counseling services on campus. If at any point of time you feel left out or home sick, take best use of these services. Moreover, the departments usually host tutoring services to assist students with their homework and academic projects.
Know your visa norms
Student visas in foreign countries usually have restrictions on student work options during course work and the norms usually vary by country. For example, in Canada, students are permitted to work part time (usually 20 hours per work week) both on or off campus,whereas USA restricts students to work part time and that too only within the university campus. Hence, be aware of your student visa regulations w.r.t legal work options and ensure that you follow the regulations so as not to risk a deportation or other legal action.
Anticipate the culture shock
Culture, of course, vary between countries, and hence, it is best to get acquainted with the customs and traditions of your study abroad destination before your travel. Internet, books, and travel blogs could be of great help to know the basics. Once you arrive at the university, you can also visit professional counseling services who can help you in setting the expectations right and avoid culture shocks.
Our best wishes for your new academic journey and hope that these tips will help you lead a successful student life!