The MHM Blog

Home to UIUC: Tips for a Smooth Transition for International Students

Posted October 20, 2023
Student in library opening and reading book.

Studying abroad can be a super exciting and life–changing experience with opportunities to deepen your understanding of other cultures and experience things only available in other parts of the world – but taking the leap to leave your home country and come to the United States to study can be a tough and taxing decision for students to make. It’s incredibly important to UIUC and the locals to welcome international students with open arms when they come to study and live here. Navigating a new school, let alone a new country, can be a daunting task but with some patience and planning and the advice below, students can ensure they have a smooth transition. 

Familiarizing Yourself with The UIUC Campus

When arriving at UIUC, the size of the school can be overwhelming, but the campus provides tons of opportunities for new students to learn how to get around and where their buildings are located. One of the easiest ways to familiarize yourself with campus is by attending a campus tour

If you’re an international student, going back to basics can be a helpful resource to avoid getting lost. And since the campus is huge, another way to get around and see everything is by utilizing the school’s bus services. Also known as the Illini Union Transit or IUT, these buses cover various routes on and around campus and can get you anywhere essential near Urbana/Champaign. You can quickly learn the school’s layout, and using the buses can save you time and energy on such a big campus.

Join Student Organizations at UIUC

There are many opportunities for students to engage in extracurricular activities at UIUC. These can help students develop valuable skills, make new friends, enhance their college experience, and, for international students – adjust to life in college in the United States. Whether you’re interested in leadership, entrepreneurship, athletics, or the arts, there’s something for everyone at UIUC beyond the classroom. 

There also may be opportunities to join a student organization with classmates from the same country or region as you, providing that home away from home comfort. Students can build their networks, gain new experiences, and make the most of their time at UIUC by participating in extracurricular and athletic activities.


It can be easy to forget about all your healthy habits when you get to college in a new country, as you’re in a new environment with new foods, a new schedule, and a new bed. Far away from home!  But prioritizing sleeping and healthy eating can save you from some of the stress of moving and college life. 

Even with all the studying, meeting new people, and adjusting to your new home, ensure you get 7-8 hours of sleep every night so your body can keep up with your new schedule. And when it comes to the dining halls and eating new and healthy – just do your best! What’s healthy for one person might not be healthy for the next, and with the options UIUC provides, there is a certain cuisine for every diet. UIUC also provides state-of-the-art gyms and workout classes that you can sign up for at no extra charge. 

Explore the Urbana/Champaign Community

When moving to a new country, getting involved in the local community is incredibly important to get to know your new surroundings. This will help you become familiar with and feel more at home after moving abroad. Here are some of our recommendations for some students’ favorite places to explore off-campus near UIUC

Seven Saints 

A pub-type restaurant but with an American twist, Seven Saints is an excellent bar and grill type place specializing in its sliders and classic apps. If you’re feeling pretzels and cheese, cheese curds, and anything fried, you will find yourself right at home among the Seven Saints menu. Perfect for ordering for a big group of friends to all split, they have something for everyone on this menu. Visit their menu here.

Watson’s Shack and Rail 

Located in the heart of downtown Champaign, Watson’s is a favorite among residents and students alike. They specialize in chicken of all kinds, from fried and rotisserie to chicken and waffles and other favorite dishes. Not only are they famous for their chicken, but the students also love them because they turn into a “full-service bar & venue every Friday & Saturday night – offering live performances by local musicians, DJs, and artists in addition to Champaign’s best late-night food!” Check out their menu and story here

Apricot Lane

This locally owned spot is an affordable and hot spot for clothing and deals. They have new stuff coming in weekly that is posted and advertised to their awesome and dynamic Instagram page. Constantly running deals, they make their clothes accessible to everyone on and off campus. If you want to look at their recent pieces, check out their Facebook page with posts of all of their new stock and deals. Visit their website here

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