My departure date had finally arrived and it was time to leave Kuwait. I was about to embark on my new adventure as a Ph.D. student at the University of South Florida. The last few hours I had spent back home were pretty emotional, bidding farewell to family members. It was especially hard to say goodbye to my parents. Yet, I knew that with great things, sometimes, come great sacrifices. In this case, that meant living a great distance from my family.
When I arrived in Tampa, I instantly fell in love with the city. The urbanized area had so many places to explore. It offers great opportunities for self-development, both personally and professionally. One of the things that I liked most about Tampa is its big Arab population, unlike Tallahassee, where I studied for my Masters. And I knew that would help ease my homesickness. On top of what I recommended in Pre-Departure From Kuwait to the United States, here are some tips to help every Ph.D. student to pursue their degree.
1) Attending the Graduate Student Orientation Is Crucial
Mark your calendar and write down the date you have to attend the graduate student orientation your school holds. By attending orientation, you will gain a lot of valuable information about your visa status, deadlines for tuition payments, and other important things. It is also crucial for you to in order for your registration hold to be removed. Once that is removed, you can go ahead and enroll in classes.
2) Checking for Other Holds Is Key
There could be other holds on your student account that could disable you from registering for classes. Some examples are things like not submitting your historical immunizations record or not providing a valid health insurance plan.
3) Don’t Miss the Dates for Early Class Registration
Well in advance of starting your new school, check their academic calendar. Write a note for yourself to remind you of the day you are able to register for classes. In case you miss that date, you could still do so in the add/drop week. However, keep in mind that most of the classes by then will be filled; so the earlier you register, the better (don’t forget the early registration dates!). In order to know which classes you can take, look up your program’s course plan, as it will have a list of the classes you have to complete in order to obtain your degree (such a plan is available on your college’s website).
4) Manage your Time to Get Things Done
When school starts and you begin your journey as a Ph.D. student, you will feel overwhelmed with the amount of reading and assignments that you have to do. However, time management does wonders! Don’t postpone your work and try to get things done as soon as they are assigned to you. By doing so, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or stressed.
5) Be Patient!
It is very important that you keep reminding yourself WHY you began this journey in the first place. Recall the goals that you want to reach whenever you feel like giving up. Remember that it is OK to feel stressed at times (most of the time to be honest, especially as an international student away from home). Even so, it is important for you to KEEP GOING. Focus your energy on the good feelings of what it would be like to hold the doctoral degree in your hand and how everyone will be so proud of you when show friends and family on your return. Simply, live for that day and DON’T GIVE UP.
You are not in this alone. If other people have done it, so can you! Stay positive. You can do this. Don’t ever forget that. A little bit of self confidence will do you the world of good. I hope these tips about what every Ph.D. student needs to know help you to follow in my footsteps.
by Dalal Boland