Being an international student at a US university is an exciting adventure that can seem a bit daunting. This is particularly the case for non-native English speakers because it can seem like you are being introduced to a whole new language! On-campus life has its own terms relating to life in a US university. Knowing these terms, and what they mean, can make your transition much easier and ensure that you focus on getting the most out of your experience, and not with your nose in a dictionary! Here’s our pick of top 10 words that you should know:

Code of Conduct- Being part of a university community means you will be living with people from diverse backgrounds, experiences and expectations. The university’s Code of Conduct outlines the university’s expectations for your behavior, including policies and rules that you must follow. Make sure you read and understand the documents you are signing and feel free to ask questions, this will help you have a positive on-campus experience. Many universities can also provide a copy in your native language for you to read.

• Resident Assistant (RA)- An RA can be a designated student or other adult, usually living in a student residence, able to assist students with a variety of issues. RA’s can be particularly useful resources for first-year and international students who are living on a university campus for the first time. Make sure to find out who the RA is on your dorm floor and what they can help you with, such as locating other resources on-campus, helping you understand the rules of living in a dorm, using the laundry facilities and much more. Very often they will organize events that will help new students feel welcome and comfortable in their new home.

• Advisor- There can be many different types of advisors you may meet at your university. These can include an International Student Advisor or a Department Advisor. Usually their role entails what you would imagine, advising students and being a resource for questions. Some advisors might be assigned to you when you arrive on-campus, and some of them you will have the opportunity to choose. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

• Meal-plan- Most universities that offer student residences will also offer meal-plans. A meal-plan usually requires you to consider how many meals you will eat at your university’s cafeteria or dining hall, and pay in advance for a semester or a year. Some universities only have one meal-plan, or one that is compulsory for all first-year students.

• Dorm- The term ‘dorm’ usually refers to a dormitory or student residence. There is no one-way a dorm has to be, the term can refer to single or double room options or suites. You will find dorms usually have names that are significant to the university, as well as different personalities and advantages.

• Room and Board- Room and Board usually refers to the costs associated with your housing and your meal-plan. Sometimes students can opt-out of one or the other cost, but for many first-year students both are required. If you have any questions as to what is included in the Room and Board package offered by your university, be sure to ask your RA or Office of Residence Life.

• Snow-day – A snow-day is a day in which there are no classes and several administrative offices at the university are closed due to severe weather conditions. Snow-days do not happen every time it snows, but rather, when the university feels it would be safer for students, teachers and staff to stay at home. If you are unsure if your university will be closed, check on their website and/or Facebook page for an official announcement.

• Tutor- Many US university students find help with tutors. Many universities will have a tutoring or writing center that can help you with your academic work. Tutors can be staff, professors or peer-tutors, meaning other students with more experience who are there to help. Find out what the hours are at your tutoring center and drop by to see what services they offer.

• Credits- For almost every class you take at university will earn you credits. To graduate, you will need to have completed a certain number of credits, sometimes sorted by department. There is no rule that works across all universities for how many credits are earned per course, or how many hours a credit is worth. Find out how many credits you will need to graduate and keep track of your progress.

• Major/Minor- A major is an area of interest you choose to focus your studies on. Most undergraduate students will have to choose a major to graduate, and every school offers different majors for you to consider. Find out when you need to ‘declare’ your major, which means informing the University of your Selection and how much time you have to change your mind. A minor is another subject in which you are interested, but which requires a smaller number of credits. Most universities will allow you to have a major and a minor.

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