4 Ways International Students Can Explore the U.S.

Visit friends who live nearby and take road trips to explore the U.S.

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Explore new foods and neighboring towns to broaden your perspective as an international student in the U.S.
Explore new foods and neighboring towns to broaden your perspective as an international student in the U.S.

Choosing to study in the U.S. is an exciting step, yet for some it can just be the first of many. Not only does it open up travel opportunities in a whole new part of the world, attending college in a different country affords you an understanding that isn't limited to the recesses of your normal life.

The following are some ways international students can explore while studying in the U.S.

1. Get to know your home away from home: Studying abroad allows you to completely immerse yourself within another culture. It allows you to explore everything that a new city has to offer: not only the touristy things, but also the many local restaurants, bars and galleries that are not so obvious on a quick trip.

This kind of exploration is much more rewarding than speeding through a short-lived hostel stay, but you can also do that during your time abroad. It is a much different experience than that of filling a backpack with clothes, snacks and beer and bumming your way around Europe or Asia, visiting place after place and making transitory relations with those you happen across.

[Get more tips and advice for international students.]

2. Make new friends to find future holiday homes: During my time abroad at the University of California—Berkeley in northern California, I have made quite a few new chums with whom I predict I will remain in close contact.

These new chums just happen to be from cool beach and mountain towns from all over California, which – as television makes it seem – is a great place to live. As someone who is definitely going to travel a whole lot more in the near future, I appreciate having a selection of holiday homes.

[Find out ways to make friends as an international student.]

3. Find travel opportunities farther afield: Once you have exhausted all there is to see and do in your immediate location, do not despair; a bonus of living abroad is the many other cool places that are near the cool place you chose to stay. This home away from home will be central to many new areas, cities and wildernesses that are open for exploration.

I have managed to fit in a snowboard season at Lake Tahoe alongside my studies during the spring semester, and I have also taken road trips to San Diego, Los Angeles, Reno and other lesser-known but much more tranquil destinations along the West Coast.

Before you depart, find the time to research your chosen location, what it is near and what it has to offer and budget for anything that catches your eye.

4. Diversify your palate: On arrival, many people binge on local offerings. For me, this included Taco Bell and In-N-Out burgers.

After this initial exploration, most people tend to find comfort in the foods of their home country. I searched out British crisps and Marmite, to no avail. But it isn't worth getting bogged down when there is such a wealth of new foods and local favorites to try in almost every major city or town.

Research cool places to try and make day trips out of visiting them. Check Google for restaurants featured on programs such as "Man v. Food," as these can offer great experiences rather than just another meal.

[Avoid the mistakes new international students make.]

Your time abroad is not a time to waste wishing for comfort foods; rather it is a time to develop your palate and try foods that you can't get at home and foods that you never dreamed of trying. The only downside is that once you're home, you'll be left craving the foods of your home away from home.

Spending so much time in a place so far from home not only shows you the possibility of living and working abroad, but also a lifestyle that you never knew existed. It removes you from the microcosm of your childhood. There is so much to see and explore once you have arrived.

Daniel Cooke, from the United Kingdom, is currently studying philosophy at the University of California—Berkeley during his second year abroad. He will graduate from King's College London in 2014.