Investigating the city you're going to will also help you get a rough idea of what you'll be paying for housing and meals. A month's rent or a dinner out near Berkeley is more expensive for Indonesian student Wihardini, she says, than for her friends who study in more remote locations.
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3. Cultural barriers: Growing up in Guatemala, Maria Jose Aldana studied the history of many cultures outside of her own, including (but not limited to) the United States. So she was surprised when many of her U.S. classmates at the University of Denver didn't have a similar breadth of world knowledge.
"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.