3 Surprises for International Students at U.S. Universities

Four Fulbright scholars share lessons learned from studying in the United States.

International students at U.S. universities should be prepared for surprises.

International students should be prepared for the American classroom atmosphere, among other surprises.

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"I sometimes think we study more about the U.S. and other countries—I thought more people would know about Guatemala," says the economic development student. "My expectations were higher." 

The lack of knowledge may be to blame for some insensitive—though perhaps unintentional—comments she's heard from Americans about her appearance and heritage. Though it's sometimes hurtful, Aldana says she's learned to be flexible and has opened up to those who express interest in her culture. 

"The idea is to try to engage in a dialogue," she says. 

[Read about the infrequent interaction happening in law schools.] 

But uncomfortable run-ins haven't characterized the experience for all the Fulbright students interviewed. For Denmark's Berg, the United States has been "a very warm and welcoming culture," she says. 

That might be part of the reason behind her final tip for students trying to decide if studying in the United States is right for them: "Do it," Berg says. "It's just an amazing experience." 

For more international student tips and news, explore the Studying in the United States center.