My departure date had finally arrived and it was time for me to leave Kuwait. I was about to embark on my new adventure: being a PhD student at one of the best universities in the USA – the University of South Florida. The last few hours that I spent back home were pretty emotional as I had to say goodbye to my 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, the sacrifice was living a great distance from my family.
When I arrived to 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 on a personal and a professional scale. One of the things that I liked most about Tampa is that it has a tremendous amount of Arabs, unlike Tallahassee, where I did my masters in. I knew for a fact that having a large Arabic community would help in easing the coming days in which I would feel homesick. On top of the things I wrote in my “Five Steps When Moving Abroad to the United States” post, here are some tips of what every PhD student needs to know about pursuing their degree.
#1 Attend the Graduate Student Orientation:
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 attend this orientation in order for your registration hold to be removed. Once that’s removed, you can go ahead and enroll in classes.
#2 Check for Other Holds (immunizations/health insurance):
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:
In advance, check your school’s 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 plan is available in your college’s website).
#4 Manage your Time to Get Things Done:
When school starts and you begin your journey as a PhD student, you will feel overwhelmed with the amount of readings 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 as overwhelmed nor as stressed.
#5 Be Patient!
It is very important that you keep reminding yourself of WHY you began this journey in the first place. Remind yourself of 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 would be so proud of you when you go finish and go home. Simply, live for that day and DON’T GIVE UP; you are not in this alone! If other people could do it, so can you! I hope these tips about what every PhD student needs to know helped!