1. ARRIVE EARLY
Giving yourself only a couple of days to settle in is suicidal – just don’t try it. It takes time to find a place to live, to open a bank account, to get a cell phone, to buy those bed linens and microwave… Come as early as you can so you don’t find yourself running errands during the first week of classes or the first weekend of orientation. It takes time to adjust!
2. WATCH THE ORIENTATION VIDEOS
The following videos from International Student Orientation in 2008 will give you a sense of what adapting to CBS will be like.
3. COME FOCUSED
This is true for every student but especially for internationals.
Come focused regarding what you want to get out of school. If this is a job, do your research now. In what industry do you want to work? What are your target companies? What is their recruiting process? How can you prepare? It is OK to change your mind once you’re in school, but the more focused you come, the better you manage to land the job you want.
4. TAKE ENGLISH CLASSES
Some international students struggle with English. If you can’t speak fluently, you might not feel comfortable speaking in class and can get misunderstood by your peers. Sign up for an English class in your home country in advance!
5. STUDY IN ADVANCE
Accounting, Finance, Statistics. All these might not be easy to learn in a second language if you don’t have some financial background. Take the Pre-MBA course seriously, or even buy a textbook and start studying in advance. You won’t believe how much it will improve your CBS learning experience.
6. READ THE NEWS
Learn as much as you can about New York and the US before coming here. Read the online editions of the Wall Street Journal www.wsj.com and the New York Times www.nytimes.com. You have to buy a subscription to access the Journal, but you get the first two weeks for free. When starting school you can get a significant student discount for both the print and online editions, so do not sign up at this point for the yearly subscription. The New York Times Online is still free – reading its business part is always a good idea.
7. EXPECT CULTURE SHOCK
Even if you visited the US before and are familiar with American culture, you may experience symptoms of anxiety, confusion and disorientation upon your arrival. These are completely normal, and are part of adjusting to a new country and culture. If it happens, take it easy and don’t get too hard on yourself – it takes time to adjust. We will discuss culture shock during international orientation.
8. EXPECT MISUNDERSTANDINGS
Most chances are that you will encounter some misunderstandings on your first weeks in New York. It may happen anywhere – in the bank, in the grocery store or in the classroom. When it happens, remember never to take it personally. Most misunderstandings are just cultural, not personal.
9. SIGN UP FOR SOCIAL NETWORKS
Social networks, which allow you to keep in touch with people you know and get introduced to new ones, are very popular in the US. So sign up for a social network; we recommend LinkedIn and Facebook. LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is a good networking tool and so is Facebook (www.facebook.com), and lots of your future classmates are already in both. When you open a Facebook account, join the Columbia Business School groups to meet your classmates.
10. COME PREPARED
This was one of the most popular tips that current international students gave you, so we’d like to emphasize again the importance of coming prepared. You want to minimize the amount of surprises upon your arrival. Learn about the recruiting process here, which is different from the one in your home country, and think how you can sell yourself better to American employers. Learn about Academics – what classes are offered and what is expected from you. Learn about New York. One student wrote: “get all your stuff sorted out before coming here and enjoy the ride.”
11. HAVE A BIG PARTY
Yes, have a big party before you leave. Trust us on this one. A long cruise in the Caribbean won’t hurt you either.
12. EXPLORE THE CITY
Once you get here, make time to explore the city before orientation starts. You won’t have much time for it afterwords. The best way to know your new neighborhood is simply to walk around or take the bus. If you live around Columbia, take the M104 bus downtown. It will go on Broadway and take you all the way to Times Square and the United Nations. We will also have guided walking tours around Columbia during international orientation. Getting familiar with your surroundings will significantly reduce your inevitable feeling of disorientation.