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Leaving Poland. How can I adapt in the US having no family or friends in this country?

Aniolka 1 | 2
12 Mar 2016 #1
I want to move to the US in two and a half year. My English is not perfect yet but I'm during the course that is gonna improve it to the ESOL level which I need to go to the American college.

And that's my point. I'm planning on going to college but I have no family or friends in America. I would like to leave Poland about a month or two earlier so I can adapt to the new country, see how things work in there and get to know some people.

I just don't know how to handle everything whilst there will be no one to help me.
Where could I stay not having a big amount of money? What should I do to adapt?
Moving in to America was my dream since always and I just want to fit in. Please, help.
Bieganski 17 | 890
12 Mar 2016 #2
If you don't have a lot of money then you might want to go to university in Poland and then take advantage of an exchange student program in the US.

This way you will have a better idea of costs and can save for it. Such programs also often provide suggestions or make arrangement of where to live (like being hosted by a vetted American family or provided lists of safe and reasonable areas to rent near the school). Study abroad programs also help ensure the integrity of your degree.

Going off all on your own has too many unknowns and risks involved.

There are thousands of schools in America but many are not reputable and so going to just any school could be a waste of money when looking for a job later on.

Also, unless you can secure a full scholarship, schooling in America is not free (and being a foreign student there means you will automatically be charged a lot more in tuition than the Americans even before any exchange rate is taken into account). There are many stories today of young Americans drowning in debt long after they finished school. And that debt is only their tuition costs which didn't include rent or dormitory fees, food, utilities, books, medical expenses, transportation, etc., etc.

If you still want to strike out on your own in the US then consider going to good schools in areas with a significant Polish speaking community like Chicago, New York City or around Washington DC. The Polish diaspora there are more likely to understand your situation and recommend to you places to stay that are safe and affordable.

As you probably know America is a very large country with a very diverse but increasingly poor population. Because of this most Americans will only see you as yet another foreigner and there is no reason for them to help you out.

Indeed, if you ever visit American websites covering news or culture Poland almost never gets mentioned unless the Holocaust is brought up. So the average American is at worst uninformed and at best misinformed about Poland.

Good luck all the same whatever your decision.
OP Aniolka 1 | 2
12 Mar 2016 #3
I'm actually aware of all things you that you mentioned but I have plans for this. I've been looking for informations about the scholarships and I have a real chance for that. Besides there's a company in my city that helps Poles with the SAT tests, with visa, college selection and other stuff like that. I even did some research on colleges in cities that I'm interested in and I guess my fist shot will be UPenn. As far as I know it's a good college in a nice city.

I'm also planning a little unrealistic career - I want to be a writer. But if I succeed init I won't have to be worried about the job or the money. Of course I realise that I might not be as good as I think I am. That's why I have some alternatives. Including coming back to Poland. But we'll see.

Anyway I don't want to go to Polish university first because I kinda have a plan for my life and staying any longer in here would be a step backward for me.
OneTwoThree - | 2
12 Mar 2016 #4
I dont want to discourage you in any way, but you will not receive any scholarships in USA unless your status is regulated - read legalized. Second, USA you are white, meaning you will not be considered as a minority (even you clearly will be one), so even if your status is legalized your access to scholarships will be limited by affirmative action agenda. Us is VERY weak on social help in general, health insurance/care is abnormally expensive and you cant count on government to help you in any way. Honestly, I think you is a really bad idea and this comes for a person that lived the scenario you are planning. If I were you I would aim for Canada and once you're educated you may seek employment in US - many Canadians are doing so, but hardly any Americans. Canada, more or less, fills in all the gaps I described above. Best of luck to you.
OP Aniolka 1 | 2
12 Mar 2016 #5
There is a Polish forum in which are all the informations about studying in the US and according to them, if my parents income doesn't exceed the amount of 40 000 $ per year then I have a real chance for getting the scholarship. There are scholarships predicted to foreigners. I've read a lot about it and also the company, which I mentioned above helps students get the scholarships. I don't know exactly how it works but I know that I can get one.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,177
12 Mar 2016 #6
Aniołka - follow your dreams. If you've got a chance at the scholarship, do what you can and go for it. If it covers your living costs, then you've got absolutely nothing to lose. You'll find that making friends is very easy in a foreign country at college - American universities are renowned for having a wide range of social activities.

Don't put yourself in a mess of debt though - taking loan after loan will be very tempting, but it's a bad idea.

One thing I'd advise you - use Skype and have a chat with the people that decide these scholarships. It'll give you a good idea if you've got a chance of getting one, though it should be said - competition will be intense. It's a good idea to also get involved with American cultural associations here. Are you from one of the bigger Polish cities?

Edit : just seen that you're from Wrocław. I might be able to put you in touch with some people there that can help :)
Bieganski 17 | 890
12 Mar 2016 #7

It sounds like you already have good resources to work with.

I only know UPenn as one of the so-called "Ivy League" schools and its business school in particular is (or was) regarded as one of the best in America. So it would be seen as a very good school but Yale and Harvard usually steal all the limelight and are better known internationally.

Philadelphia like most large North American cities has both good and dangerous areas but it certainly wouldn't be as expensive as say NYC.

A look on UPenn's website showed a very diverse and happy looking student population. But that's just marketing. In any event this school should be able to assist you in finding decent accommodation on or off campus.

As far as not having any local help at your disposal once at school that is the situation for most college students. Some show up all on their own. Some are dropped off by their parents but after that they have to figure out stuff for themselves. Most good schools have plenty of support groups and other activities for students to get help and network with each other. It's still guaranteed though that virtually all of them call back home frequently to ask for advice and to cry their eyes out about something.

So unless you have the extra cash I wouldn't worry too much about needing to show up early in order to "adjust". You should give yourself plenty of lead-time if you know you will have an issue with immigration or you will have to go out and find furniture for a dorm room or flat.

College life itself has its own pace and demands which are very different from the working world. So there is nothing really to adapt to other than taking your studies seriously while also giving yourself time to make friends and participate in some extracurricular activities. All that can be done during the academic year.

If writing is where your interests are then that is what you should study. Many have chosen degrees like law or medicine because they (or very often their parents) thought it would lead to profitable careers. But there are plenty of stories of students having no interest in these fields and so they end up dropping out or they go into jobs they hate or are not very good at.
Cheese Steak
13 Mar 2016 #8

Founded by Benjamin Franklin, the University of Pennsylvania is one of America's oldest and most prestigious universities. It is most famous for its Wharton School of Business. (Donald Trump is one of its graduates.) Competition to get accepted is fierce and it certainly isn't cheap. Even if you were to receive some kind of scholarship, understand that housing and food will be much more expensive than in Poland. There is still a traditionally Polish section of Philadelphia in the Port Richmond section, but it is shrinking:
However, it is far from the U. Penn campus which is in the mostly African-American West Philadelphia. (Most of the city is now not white, and you will be conspicuous there.) If you want to experience the culture of America's first capital, eat soft pretzels with mustard, and enjoy its world famous cheese steaks, there are also other universities there that are cheaper to attend: Temple Univ., Drexel Univ., Philadelphia Unv., LaSalle Univ., and St. Joseph's Univ. In the suburbs are even more, like Villanova Univ., and branch campuses of Penn State Univ. The American Catholic shrine of Our Lady of Częstachowa is located nearby in the suburbs of central Bucks County, which is itself a center of Polish culture:
Home Army commander, Gen. , Antoni Chruściel, was originally buried in the cemetery there, before being re-interred back in Poland after the fall of communism.

I hope that this is helpful.
porky pok 2 | 127
13 Mar 2016 #9
@OP the following are the best universities for the field you are looking for...

I am sure there are certain aids and loans .Usually the health insurance is covered by the uni and also if you are a hard worker you can work on cash on the side and make for your food and board.

But do remember that the student loans never go away till the end of life even if you declare bankruptcy of any kind and they grow with interest.
czech_canadian 8 | 32
21 Jun 2016 #10

You'll be fine. I made the move to Toronto all alone in 2011, and it was all fine. But then again I am fluent in English and having lived in another commnwealth country, I hardly noticed the differences besides the many skyrises in Toronto.
Meathead 5 | 469
28 Jun 2016 #11
Chicago would be good, it has a very large Polish population.
Lyzko 45 | 9,275
28 Jun 2016 #12

You raise an interesting dilemma! While certainly knowledge of the language always helps when moving abroad, US culture is completely different from Polish culture, no matter how suppposedly "globalized" we've become:-)

First off, having spent some time in Poland myself (Szczecin, but many years back), I grew accustomed to a certain dour reaction to innocent queries or attempts at light conversation, all too common here in the States! Americans are often quick to start a conversation, but just as quick to end it once they feel you're getting too close, too fast. If a Pole strikes up more than an innocent conversation, I found in my dealings that they were usually interested in a serious answer, not merely fluff and sillyness. Furthermore, many of us have never been abroad, so expect some off questions about Poland, Europe in general, for that matter:-) It's not that we're being disrespectful; most of the time, we honestly have no ideaLOL

Americans are about the least travelled people on the planet (except perhaps in the military).

My fellow countrymen normally avoid foreign languages like the Plague, and so again, don't be surprised or dismayed that if/when you ask for correction in English, your partner politely balks at such and turns slightly red with embarrassment. It's not as important to us as, for example, to the Brits, the French or the Germans, HOW you speak our language.

Enough said on that point. We'll be happy to assist with any cross-cultural tips.
Tymoteusz 2 | 346
2 Jul 2016 #13
What will be your major(What degree do you seek)? I ask because many have become a waste of time. I would love to see your dream come true, but I want it to have value for your entire lifetime.

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