What’s it like to study in the USA?

Student culture at American universities can be described as a “work hard, play hard” culture. Classes tend to be academically challenging with lots of homework, and many students work part-time jobs to help pay for their studies. At the same time, fraternities and university athletics are a major part of life on most American college campuses, and alcohol-fueled parties are far from unusual. Many universities in the USA have amazing facilities, both for sports and for academics. High-end labs, giant sports stadiums, indoor pools, massive libraries… all of these are a part of studying in the USA.

Most American college students live on or around campus. Their parents often live in a different city or state from the university. This first taste of independence and distance from family structures is a defining feature of university student life in the USA.

Student life at other type of schools in the USA is quite different. At community colleges and vocational training schools, the culture is generally more subdued. Many of these institutions have students from 18 to 80, some with jobs and families, all with lives outside school. Most are studying for a shorter period (6 months to 2 years) in order to earn a particular qualification for work. There are no school sports teams or fraternities, and often classes take place in a single building rather than on a full campus. In such a setting, there’s less “school spirit”. Everyone’s there to get a job done.

Studying English in the USA is a popular choice as well, and for good reason. Americans tend to be friendly. They engage easily in conversations with strangers, which makes practicing English simple. Also, the American accent is familiar thanks to TV and movies, making it easier to understand. And life in America is comfortable from a material standpoint (perhaps even excessively comfortable).

Studying in the USA, you’re likely to be confronted with perspectives that are profoundly different from your own. Despite what you see on TV, American culture, like any culture, is not always pretty. And perhaps that’s the heart of the matter: If you’re wondering  what it’s like to study in the USA, the best answer is “go and see.”

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