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Surviving and Thriving: Your First Year at UW – A Guide from a Seasoned Husky

Written by Jessica Jie Wang, UW Senior

Welcome to the pack! How does it feel for the first week of school? Excited? Overwhelmed? I felt the same way in my first week/month at UW as there were so many things on the checklist to be done and so many “surprises” (good or bad) happening every day. As I reflect on my experience, I’d like to share some personal insights and tips to help you make the most of your first year at UW:   

  • Check the Post-Arrival Checklist on ISS

Reading the Post-arrival Checklist FIRST thing you want to get done after you arrive! It is more important than getting your sim card, debit card, exploring campus, etc. Also, always Stay Tuned with ISS: they are the office that supports all F and J international students at UW and provide abundant resources. Be sure to check our their website and events calendar frequently.  

  • Embrace the Gloomy Rainy Days

Seattle is famous for its drizzly days, so I would highly recommend investing a good raincoat and a sturdy umbrella. This is advice from a person whose two umbrellas have been blown apart by Seattle’s wind. Also, if you are someone who could be easily impacted by the weather like me, I would encourage you to go out during sunny days as much as possible to get Vitamin D and spend time doing something meaningful with your friends indoor during rainy days.   

  • Budget Wisely

Try not to convert dollars to your home country currency, get used to the level of consumption here and stick to a budget. If you need help, UW has some financial assistance, and there are numerous part-time job opportunities on and off campus for international students. UW ISS can also help you navigate internships, CPT, and OPT. I had my first job as a student dining assistant at UW, and now I am a student assistant at ISS! There are tons of job opportunities you can find through Handshake, feel free to use the resources.   

  • Plan Your Academic Journey Smartly

Always prioritize your studies. If you know what you want to do in the future, get into the related major as early as your can and start taking major-related courses. Speaking as a senior, it is painful to take all the hard major requirements in my last year L Also, it is totally okay if you cannot follow with the class immediately because of language barrier or academic style differences – always ask for help! There are tons of resources at UW to help you succeed academically including your TAs, professors, academic advisors, department, and tutors.   

  • Stay Healthy and Positive

Your well-being is the no.1 important thing. Being around with the right group, doing things that cheer you up, and staying in touch with the loved ones are very important. If you need to see someone to support your physical or mental health, take advantage of your insurance ISHIP wisely!  

 Lastly, I want to highlight a few resources that helped me make my first year especially meaningful:  

  • UW Circle: hosts various fun events designed for international students.  
  • First Year Program: Like its name, focuses on positive academic transitions for first year students. 
  • HUB/HUB building: The HUB is the center of student life at UW.

Remember that college is meant to be a fun and transformative experience. Don’t let stress overshadow your journey. Instead, fully embrace the adventure, make lifelong friends, and create unforgettable memories right here in the vibrant heart of Seattle.