Tips for New International Dons

KateThe following was written by Kate Xiaotian Zhang, the Supplemental Instruction Graduate Intern. 

Kate comes from Northern China. She earned her bachelor’s degree in China and she graduated from the University of San Francisco with a master’s degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) in 2015. She supports USF undergraduate students who work as Supplemental Instruction Leaders. As a student of education, Kate has a strong passion for helping students to become independent and confident learners. In her spare time, she loves reading, jogging, cooking Chinese food, watching movies, and traveling.


Tips for New International Dons

Studying and living in a new country, a new culture can be intimidating to anyone. The very first thing you need to learn is that you are not alone. You are not the only one who is going through this process, and you do not need to overcome this all by yourself. This blog is going to help new undergraduate international students to go through this process smoothly and quickly.

Campus Life

  • The first thing you need to do is to go to all your orientations.

There are usually two significant orientations for international students, one is held by your program or department, and the other one is held by the International student center (it’s called ISSS here at USF). A lot of important information will be shared on those orientations. Check your school email box all the time to make sure you do not miss any orientation.

  • Join a student association or club.

A fast and good way to know more people and make friends is to join a student association based on your personal interests. Pay attention to the various flyers on the wall, you can always find something useful and attractive to you.

  • Check on the school main page at least one time per week.

The university will hold various activities every week. Mark the one that interests you and go. This is a good opportunity to get involved in school activities and make connections with your classmates and faculty members.

Academic Life

  • Make appointments with the Learning, Writing, and Speaking center.

The university offers various academic support to all students. Take advantage of the free and quality resources on campus.

  • Make a regular meeting schedule with your advisor or academic coach.

Meet with your advisor or academic coach regularly to make sure you are on track during the whole semester, and also make plans for the next semester.

  • Go to your professors’ office hours.

Your professor’s office hours is a good time to ask personal questions concerning your lectures and your grade in this class.

  • Group Study

In America, collaborative learning is very popular and encouraged by many professors. Sometimes, you need to work with your classmates to finish an assignment together. Group study is a good way to improve your learning and promote the relationships between you and your classmates.

Starting a new life in a foreign country is not an easy thing no matter for who, so give yourself enough time to adjust. Don’t hide away in your dorm, go outside, meet new people, and try new things. Have fun and live your own life! Bon Voyage!

The Importance of Time Management

The following was written by Haley Rietman, The Learning Center’s Program Assistant. 


Haley grew up in San Diego, CA. She also attended college in Southern California at Chapman University where she received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Haley is currently in school at USF pursuing her Masters in Counseling Psychology. Haley hopes that through her work in the Learning Center, she will be able to encourage students to achieve their academic goals, and support them on their journey to individualized success. Haley’s passions include traveling, exercising, and reading and when she has spare time she likes to explore San Francisco.


The Importance of Time Management

Have you ever found yourself mindlessly scrolling through the depths of social media only to catch yourself wasting time, and then continue doing it? Or be asked by Netflix “are you still watching?” knowing you have something more productive you could be doing with your time but not wanting to do it?  I know many of us have and I am not excluded from this either. However, I have had a large decrease in my amount of free time in the past month or so due to new commitments. This has allowed me to re-evaluate my priorities and know that I need to stick to only the most important. This is not to say that I don’t indulge in mindless activity sometimes, but I have found creating a schedule to be very important. Although there are numerous methods that can be used to develop a schedule, I have found that I prefer Google calendar.

Similar to the Learning Center’s 7 day study plan, when I started using my google calendar more intently, I was mapping out each and every hour of my day. Now that I have become more used to it, I am able to leave out time blocks for commuting, meals, and tasks that remain consistent for me throughout my week. However, when I was first getting used to my newer schedule, I made sure to keep track of each part of my day so that I was able to form positive habits within my schedule. In a previous blog post, I spoke about my use of prioritization and how Eisenhower’s Matrix/Covey’s Quadrants help me prepare for each day and each task I need to. I have now been able to further that and utilize other methods of preparation to be sure I am accomplishing tasks in all aspects of my life. The formation of this habit has allowed me to feel successful and still feel like I have some time for myself despite balancing a full-time job, two internships, and the commitment to my classes in my graduate program.

If you are feeling like you might be having a hard time prioritizing or managing your time, remember that you are not alone and it is common to feel this way in your college years. The Learning Center provides Academic Skills Coaching and one of the most common requests we receive is to support students with their time management. If this is something you are interested in, visit your student hub and click on “Make an Appointment.” The Learning Center is here to support students no matter their level of confidence in their abilities.