What to Know Before Returning to Campus for Fall 2021 Semester

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Safety Requirements

Safety comes first. This semester international students from all over the world will return to campuses in the USA. Universities want to ensure that students are still taking action to keep safe from COVID and the emerging new variants. Some schools will start mandating students to get vaccinated. If you are unvaccinated, you should start preparing. Learn more about the COVID vaccine here.

With COVID-19 cases rising again, it’s important to remember the basics of stopping the spread. Here are some tips recommended by the CDC to keep safe from COVID while returning to campus this fall:

  1. Avoid large gatherings: You may be tempted to attend a party on campus. With events like these, most people will not be wearing a mask this can increase your chances of getting COVID-19. Try to attend virtual events/gatherings instead to keep you and others safe.
  2. Limit your time in the dining hall: You cannot control how many students will be in the dining hall so it may be crowded at times. Wherever possible, take advantage of take-out options if your school offers them and avoid self-serve stations such as buffets. You can even cook your own meals if you have access to a kitchen!
  3. Avoid sharing personal items and food: Whether you are in your dorm or off-campus apartment, avoid sharing items such as your phone or laptop with others. If you do share anything, make sure to disinfect your items before
  4. Follow the CDC checklist to know what to bring with you to campus to keep safe from COVID-19 while in-person learning. If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, make sure to get tested as soon as possible!

Transition From Remote Learning to In-person Classes

The transition from in-person classes to remote learning was very difficult for many international students this past year. Adapting to virtual classes made good grades more challenging to earn. The good news is more in-person classes will be available for the Fall 2021 semester! Here are some tips to help you navigate the change from virtual learning to in-person classes:

  • Stay organized- Organize your course material by using different colored folders.
  • Manage your time– Use a planner to write down important exam dates, project assignments, and homework due dates. Keep a copy of your course syllabus accessible to you in case you need it. Remember that you will need to set aside extra time to prepare for class and to arrive at class.
  • Ask for help- Students use group chats as a fast way to communicate with each other. Create group chats with your fellow classmates to help each other with homework assignments and any upcoming deadlines.
  • Prepare to engage in social environments- After taking classes remotely most of 2020, you are probably used to being in class “alone”. Prepare yourself to engage with other students in the class as this will be more common this semester.

Living on Campus

Many changes have been made to dormitory living spaces to create COVID-19 safe living spaces. The more students start to move to campus, its social life on campus will be more present this semester. Here are changed to expect:

  • Some universities like the University of California  Irvine have imposed no guest policies or limited guest policies in campus dormitories.
  • Other Universities like the University of Central Florida, might require appointments for move-in check-ins to prevent crowded spaces in dormitory buildings. If you would like other accommodation for your safety against COVID-19
  • Rutgers University, among other universities, has implemented required reservations to limit crowding. Many facilities within the dormitories might not be accessible to prevent crowded areas like dorm building lounges, and study rooms. Recreation and wellness centers might require appointments to use facilities. You can always check in with your residential assistant or contact the facility for information on how to access it.

How to Stay Involved on Campus

Living at home and remote learning has taken away the full college experience for many international students. While covid guidelines are still being enforced on campus, how will your social life look like this academic year? There are many ways to be involved on campus while still being safe. Here are some ways to stay involved:

  • Attend Campus Events- Clubs and student organizations are hosting virtual events via zoom. The fall 2020-spring 2021 semester welcomed students back on their campus and some universities held in-person events, students were asked to wear masks and keep them 6-feet apart to ensure everyone’s safety. Resident assistants also hold events for their designated buildings, which is an opportunity to virtually socialize with other students living in the same dormitory as you!
  • Find a job on campus– Earn extra money, build your resume, and meet other students that are also working on campus. You can check with your school career services department for available opportunities.
  • Volunteering– Take advantage of volunteering opportunities on campus; this gives you the chance to build your resume, give back to your campus community and make new friends.

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