Questions about adjusting to life in the U.S.? Look below for some helpful tips.

Throughout your time in Monterey, you may find that you have questions about the academic culture of the Institute or about American culture in general.

Adjusting to Academic Culture

There are many things that can impact your performance in the classroom; here are some tips on how to help manage issues such as stress, classroom culture, and academic integrity.

Academic Integrity

The Policies and Standards Manual provides all students and scholars with important information about the Student Code of Conduct and provides definitions on what is considered cheating and plagiarism. Even if you are familiar with the terms, it is good to review this information and to notify the appropriate office if you feel that there is a student violation. Violations of the Student Code of Conduct are taken very seriously and could lead to academic discipline and even dismissal. View the Policies and Standards Manual.

Classroom Culture

Classroom culture varies around the globe, and this may be your first experience inside an American classroom. Perhaps you are accustomed to a university where students mostly take notes and have little opportunity or experience to participate in discussion. Many classes at the Institute encourage and/or require participation as part of your final grade.

Improving Your English

If you are interested in improving your English, there are many things that you can do:

  • Participate in a student club—some student clubs provide opportunities to engage in public speaking and others provide a forum to speak with native speakers with whom you may share a common interest.

  • Find a language partner—the Office of Student Services can help you connect with someone.

  • Talk with your classmates and other scholars—someone in your program may be looking for a language partner as well.


All students and scholars have the opportunity to talk with a professional counseling service through WellConnect. WellConnect provides confidential sessions and connects you with professionals in the Monterey community to talk to about academic stress, depression, roommate conflicts, money matters, and more. If you are interested in speaking with someone, visit WellConnect’s website or call (800) 326-6142. You can also find additional information on our Health and Wellness site.

Adjusting to American Culture

Adjusting to cultural norms is difficult no matter where you travel. Here is some general information about how to adjust to American culture and help make the transition a smooth one.

Nonverbal Communication

You may feel uneasy in some social situations because you are unfamiliar with nonverbal behavior or nonverbal communication—cues that can include eye contact, facial expressions, or speaking distance, to name a few. You can always ask someone about this, or learn from observing body language, intonation of voice, and eye contact from other students and scholars.

Go For It!

Now is the perfect time to try new things, explore opportunities, and be inventive! Whether you are here to earn your degree, do research, or teach a course, be sure to allow time for yourself and time for new experiences. This could be as simple as going for a walk, spending a day at the aquarium, exploring the coast, visiting a new city, or eating at a new restaurant. Whatever it may be, go for it!