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Preparing to live and study away from home as an LLM student in the US
Leaving home for the first time to study an LLM is likely to bring many emotions to the surface, you’re proud of your achievement, but also slightly anxious about how you’ll deal with moving away. It’s certainly a milestone, but what are the best ways of preparing for your new life at a US law school?
Moving away for the first time
The academic side of your life is going to be daunting, so make sure you’re ready to work to the best of your abilities by keeping yourself healthy. Once you’re place is confirmed, look on the university's website to find out about nearby facilities like a general practitioners surgery, dentist and optician if necessary. Check that your medical insurance is up to date and inform the company providing your cover that you will be relocating.
Take some time to research the state you’ve chosen to study in, whether you are a domestic or international student, it can help to familiarise yourself with a new place before you arrive. Learn about the area’s culture, history, local government and geography to ensure you get the most out of the time you spend there. If possible speak to other people who've made the same trip – they should have some words of wisdom for you.
Once you know what kind of weather you’re likely to have you can pack for the climate you’ll be living in. There’s always room for a few home comforts, but try to take the minimum you’ll need and consider using a backpack instead of a suitcase. This will come in handy of you decide to take trips around the US, and it leaves your hands free when moving around an airport or bus station.
How will I cope with the emotional side of leaving?
Most people experience a pang of homesickness when they leave home for the first time and it can be quite hard to deal with. Remind yourself that your old life will still be there once you've completed the LLM, so try to limit the time you spend calling home and deal with these feelings yourself. By becoming part of university life from the beginning you are more likely to make contact with people who are in exactly the same situation, making friends can help you adjust to a new lifestyle and cope with your anxieties faster. If you’re an international student and your first language is not English, it’s definitely worth brushing up on your conversational skills so it’s easier to communicate with your new classmates.
Preparing to move to the US from abroad
When people move to the United States from another country the way of life can come as something of a culture shock. It’s possible that you will go through periods of feeling confused about why people act in certain ways, unsure of yourself and maybe even uncomfortable with your new life. That’s a perfectly normal part of studying internationally and it’s a challenge you’ll eventually learn to deal with. Across the world societies have alternative belief systems and values, and people do things differently. At first this will seem odd, but sometimes that’s made worse by the homesickness you feel and the physical absence of your family and friends.
Losing a support system is tough, but when that is compounded by being in unfamiliar surroundings, it’s even more of a struggle. To cope more effectively make sure you arrange to use Facebook, Skype, or similar platforms to keep in touch with everyone you care about back home. However, don’t forget that this is also an unmissable opportunity to reach out and make new friends, people who may well go on to become invaluable contacts in both your personal and professional life – so look at the various student clubs and societies to see which ones appeal to you, then register an interest as soon as you can.
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