Take up a sport or go to the gym regularly
Sports and exercise help to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone and release endorphins which make you feel great. After a stressful first quarter, my body was in knots and I knew that I needed a massage. I had already scheduled a kickboxing class beforehand, so I decided to go to that, and afterwards, I was rejuvenated. My mood also drastically transformed, and I immediately signed up for more classes. This was a game changer for me. So find what works for you because this will help to put you in the right mental space to learn.
Sometimes you might find that you are the only black student in your class or the only one from your country. Be not dismayed, people want to get to know you and this may lead to an identity crisis because you don’t even know yourself. Just be whomever you are at that time, eventually you will find yourself and slowly come out of your shell. You need to be confident because you can’t hide anymore, you are now visible and there is nothing you can do about it. So, own it and be friendly, a lot of people are shy so you might be the person to initiate conversation most times. You will keep evolving but at the end of the day, you will be just fine. Trust God and the process.
Explore different classes and interests
There are tons of classes to take in graduate school of varied interests, look them over and take the ones that pique your interest. I was interested in management classes and was able to get an engineering management minor. I thank God for those classes, they were so different from what I was used to, and I met more people in that way. I was also able to be more independent as I had different people in my classes. So, take classes that interest you not limited to your field. It will broaden your mind.
Explore the surrounding city
In your spare time, explore the surrounding city no matter where you are located. It’s a different experience from where you were and the environment where your school is located. Take note of major tourist sights and check if your school ID gives you a discount or gives you free admission in some cases. Go with friends or solo, just explore and you will be amazed at how many opportunities there are for students to visit places for free and get discounts in restaurants, cinemas and tourist sites. Enjoy these benefits while you are still a student.
Don’t be so hard on yourself
You made it here even if you feel like you don’t deserve it. You are here and you must make the best of it. You don’t have to be the best; you only have to be willing to learn from the best. Be confident and sure of yourself. I believe in you, you’ve got this.
Find a community
Find a community you can relate to in a church, association, volunteering opportunities and anything you can do weekly or bi-weekly with people that support you and with whom you can share experiences with. I was fortunate to find a community in my local church fellowship and a multicultural dialogue association where I got to share experiences with people of different cultures and countries. These communities helped me feel at home in my new environment.
Attend social events
You will be invited to events throughout your time as a graduate student, especially from your classmates and friends. You should find time to attend as many as you can so that you can form relationships with your classmates and share new memories with your friends. The game nights and trivia I shared with my classmates helped me get to know them better and develop relationships with some of them. It was nice to know who is competitive, who just plays for fun, who has a pet and who likes spicy food. This random information helped me to connect and just feel at home with them.
Please check out part 1 of these tips and I hope these tips help you have an amazing time at graduate school. I wish you the very best.
Have a great day,