International students: your questions ANSWERED
Congratulations and welcome, '23s! The past few days must be very exciting for you guys! I can still remember myself that night more than two years ago. The clock ticked four in the morning, and I started screaming, crying, and laughing at the same time when I saw the confetti in my decision letter. That was one of the best moments of my life.
That excitement is amazing and well deserved, but after that, we do have some important decisions and plans to make. I was the first in my family to ever study abroad in America, so I was clueless about everything. From May until the end of the summer, I had to figure out what to expect and how to prepare for my college life all by myself. Even though my friends, the Admissions Office, and OVIS are good resources to go to, the process was quite stressful and time-consuming. To help out future international students, I thought I should write a blog to answer some common questions that international students have. I hope this blog will help you guys better navigate your plans from now on!
Question 1: What is it like to be an international student at Dartmouth? Are most of your friends international students?
I think the best way to answer these questions is that there is no such thing as "a typical Dartmouth student." You are your unique self, and you will shape your own Dartmouth experiences, whether you are an international student or not. Most of my first friends at Dartmouth are international students since I met them in International Student Orientation; however, the more I'm involved in activities on campus, the more people I became friends with. My friends come from many different backgrounds, and I think that is an amazing thing about Dartmouth's culture. The D-plan, the Living Learning Communities, the liberal arts system – I think Dartmouth is designed to make sure that you have a chance to get to know and bond with your classmates. Even now, I still find myself getting to know new people and making new friends every term!
Question 2: How do I get to Dartmouth? And when should I start booking my ticket?
The easiest way to get to Dartmouth is to fly to Boston Logan Airport and catch the Dartmouth Coach. Most international students arrive one or two days before their DOC trip, so Dartmouth sends international student mentors to Logan to help guide coming students to find the bus. More information about this will be sent out in the summer, so look forward to that! If it's difficult for you to fly to Boston, flying to JFK in New York is also an option, but transporting from JFK to Dartmouth is a little bit tricky. The easiest way would be to catch the Dartmouth Coach, but the buses won't start at the airport like in Boston (it leaves from near Grand Central Station). Also, there are only two buses from New York to Hanover every day and reservation is required, so take extra time to plan ahead if you decide to fly to New York.
The general advice for booking tickets is to only get it after you get a visa. However, Dartmouth sent out the visa documents rather late in the summer (at least in my year), so if you're on a budget, it would put you in a difficult situation (early booking always gives you a better price). I think a good solution to this is to book your ticket early, but make sure that the ticket is refundable in case something happens.
Question 3: What if I struggle with using academic English?
Dartmouth has a lot of resources to help students succeed academically, including international students who struggle with using English! Every freshman is required to take writing classes, and they are very helpful. RWIT and the Academic Skills Center are also amazing resources if you struggle academically. A lot of students (even native English speakers!) bring their papers to RWIT for help or revisions. The Academic Skills Center also has some English classes for students struggling with the language.
Question 4: What and how much should I pack?
This really depends on whether you want to buy most of your stuff here or you want to bring them from home. I recommend bringing all your essentials with you because it is difficult to go shopping immediately after you arrive. And if you find it cheaper to buy things in your home country than to buy in the U.S., getting them beforehand may be a good idea. However, as you will be traveling for a long time, try to limit your luggage to two big suitcases and a backpack. There will be trips to Wal-mart during Orientations, and you can order everything on Amazon, so don't worry about underpacking!
Question 5: What if I have other questions?
Email the Admissions Office! I wrote to them a lot when I was preparing for leaving for college, and they responded very timely and were super helpful! If you know a current student, like someone from your high school or someone you met during Dimensions, reach out to them! Everyone at Dartmouth is excited to welcome you!