Tips for Adjusting to the Lehigh Community

Here are some suggestions that might help your transition to living at Lehigh somewhat easier and less stressful:

  • Ask questions - Don’t be afraid to ask for help or directions. People at Lehigh in general are very friendly and helpful.
  • Be curious – To experience a new culture and learn from it, it is important to be open to new things.
  • Keep a sense of humor – Everyone makes mistakes in a new place, so enjoy it and learn to laugh at yourself.
  • Develop a support network – Make new friends, join student clubs, and get involved in campus activities.
  • Look and listen – A word, phrase or gesture that means something in your home country may mean something very different in the U.S., so observe the people’s reactions in their conversations during social settings.
  • Develop a hobby – Being passionate about something drives connections between people and motivates individuality.
  • Exercise or take up a sport
  • Recognize when you need help and be sure to find it. Come to OISS.

Before you know it, time will pass and you will recall, “Culture shock? What’s that?!”

Language Problems

Another challenge you might face while living in the U.S. is speaking a foreign language on a daily basis. Here are a few tips to help your transition to the U.S. culture:

  • American English has a variety of accents and slangs. Therefore, it may take some time to get accustomed to the local language habits.
  • You will probably have an accent and vocabulary of your own. Therefore, give Americans a chance to understand you as well. Try to speak slowly at first to make sure you are properly understood and do not be shy to ask others to speak slowly if you are unable to understand them.
  • Humor, wit and sarcasm are integral parts of American English as well. Some international students have difficulties in understanding what is being said and sometimes they cannot determine whether the person is being serious or joking (sometimes known as sarcasm). This type of informal style of conversation should be interpreted as being friendly and not disrespectful.
  • Lehigh people use a lot of abbreviations such as “TA” for Teaching Assistant and technical terms such as “IR” for International Relations, so do not be afraid to ask their meanings. 
  • At the beginning of your stay in the U.S., it may be wise to carry with you a small dictionary to help you understand some of the words. Do not be afraid to make mistakes. After all, this is just part of your adventure here. 

If an Emergency Occurs at Home

If a medical, financial or family problem arises while you are in the U.S., you will need to decide on how it should be dealt with. With today’s technological advances, e-mail and telephones have made communication easy and affordable to consult with your family in order to determine the seriousness of the situation. If it deems that you must leave the U.S., here are a few things you should consider before leaving.

  • Academic Issues: Make sure your academic work will not suffer if you leave. You should meet with your academic advisor, the international student advisor and your thesis advisor if applicable. By meeting with all the relevant parties, we will try to assist you without jeopardizing your academic record. Be sure to notify the Dean of Students Office if you are an undergraduate student.
  • Financial Issues: There are various things to consider - financial expenses to return home or the impact on your scholarship or assistantship at Lehigh. OISS can help you consider your options along with the help of the university administration.
  • Reentry into the U.S.: Check with OISS that you have all the proper immigration documents and the appropriate visa. If your visa has expired, you will have to reapply at your local embassy/consulate which can be a long wait.
  • Family Issues: Discuss with your family on when and how they should inform you of the existing situation at home.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE: If an emergency does occur, you can expect OISS and Lehigh to give you the support you need. We are here to listen to you and help you in any way possible.