International students studying in the United States often have to deal with culture shock. Everything’s different from home. Attitudes, fashions, social expectations, architecture — even the food is unfamiliar. It takes a little time to get comfortable to your new surroundings. Sometimes you just long for a little slice of home.
That’s what makes Houston, Texas so enticing for foreign students. In Houston, you can find that little piece of home when you need it. The fourth largest city in the United States and a major economic center, Houston is home to over 100 different nationalities, giving the city a cosmopolitan, multiethnic feel.
College Student Associations
Most colleges with foreign student bodies have an International Student Association, which can answer student questions and help you adapt to life and study in the U.S.A. For instance, the University of Houston, with approximately 4,200 foreign students, offers a range of international student services, including an International Friendship Program that matches students with local families to familiarize students with American culture.
In addition, your college may offer workshops to introduce international students to important aspects of studying in the United States. Topics covered in workshops may include:
- Changes to student immigration visa requirements
- Cross-cultural adjustment
- Finding work as a foreign student
- Health insurance for international students
- Tax and Social Security obligations
Housing and Living Expenses
Houston has one of the lowest costs of living in the United States, so food and housing are all cheaper than you’d find in other metropolitan areas. International students who decide to find accommodations off-campus find rental properties very affordable.
The low cost of living is due, in part, to the city’s diverse and thriving industries. Over 23 Fortune 500 companies call Houston home, often offering internships and educational opportunities to students. Medical students may have a chance to work at the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world. Houston also includes NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
Tastes of Home
The U.S. News and World Report ranks Houston as the third most ethnically diverse city in the United States of America. Houston’s multiethnic population provides opportunities for international students. Restaurants, music festivals and community organizations all reflect the city’s diversity, so homesick students can often find familiar sights, sounds and tastes when they need a little home-based comfort.
Every year, at the end of April, the city hosts the Houston International Festival, a two-day celebration of the city’s cultural diversity. The festival offers a chance for students to volunteer and introduce their new-found American friends to their own culture.
*One thing an international student may need is an evaluation.