Campus groups and activities
There are many campus activities outside of school work. They provide great ways to meet other students. Getting involved will help you practice English.
These groups are very diverse. There are extracurriculars for:
- Sport teams
- Playing against other classmates
- Playing against other schools
- Auditioning for plays and musicals
- Improvisational comedy troupes
- Music groups
- Writing for the school newspaper
- Working on the school yearbook
- Volunteer work
- Raising money for charities and social causes
- Donating time to help charities and social causes
There are also many academic clubs on campus. These groups focus on areas of study. They are a great way to:
- Meet students with the same academic interests
- Find help with school work
- Find a group or partner to study with
- Attend a special event:
There is an academic group for nearly every subject. Some common subjects include:
Language and Culture
There are also groups for language and culture. These are a good place to meet other students from your country. They’re also a way to learn about other backgrounds.
Maybe you want to learn more about life in Germany. There might be a German Culture Club.
You might want to discuss your own country’s politics. There are also clubs for that.
These are good places to discuss controversial issues. Language and culture clubs will give you a place to talk about them.
You can join these groups when you arrive on campus. They will have information available in the student union. You might find out later that you don’t have time for some. But, you should still join them early.
Don’t let the word “union” fool you. A student union is a place for students to hang out together. It is a place to study, socialize and eat. It has nothing to do with labor collectives or political groups.
The student union is also a place for special events. There might be:
- Guest lectures
- Fund Raisers
On-campus dining options
CWRU has many dining options in the union and around campus dining halls.
You can always pay cash to eat in the union. Your meal plan might include food from the union. Find out when you sign up for a meal plan.
Off-campus dining options
American culture is full of food. Of course, we need food to live. But food is also used to socialize and celebrate.
There are many dining options available. You’ll want to learn about on-campus meals. You can learn more about them when you enroll.
To celebrate or socialize, people like to eat off-campus. In bigger cities, there will be more options. Wherever you are, the local newspaper should have restaurant listings.
You can also look for restaurants online.
Restaurant Culture Guide
You might want to go to a very popular restaurant. It can be hard to get a table at these restaurants. They are very busy. They might not be able to seat you right away.
This can be avoided with a reservation. This is when you call a restaurant to reserve a table. When you call, they will ask you for this information:
- What time would you like to come in?
- How many people will be at your table?
- Do you need any special accommodations?
- A person in a wheelchair?
Sometimes, you can make a reservation online. Here are some websites for restaurant reservations.
Gratuity and Tipping
In most American restaurants, your check will not include gratuity. This can change if you have a large group. When the check arrives, see if it includes a tip. Ask your server if you’re unsure.
It is considered rude not to leave a tip. The standard amount is 15% of the check’s total. For outstanding service, people leave an 18% or 20% tip.
- The total bill is $45.
- 15% tip is $6.75. The total amount you leave is $51.75.
- 18% tip is $8.10. The total amount you leave is $53.10.
- 20% tip $9.00. The total amount you leave is $54.
At the Restaurant
Before you go to the restaurant, find out if there is a dress code. Most chain restaurants do not have a dress code.
You can always call the restaurant and ask. The dress code is sometimes on the restaurant’s website.
All restaurants require a shirt and shoes. Here are some common dress codes:
- Casual: Jeans are fine. You can wear the same clothes you wear to class.
- Business casual: Nicer jeans are fine. Wear them with a nice shirt and shoes. You can also wear office attire.
- Formal: Fine attire only. Men should wear a suit and tie. Ladies should wear nice dresses.
Most American restaurants have free refills for non-alcoholic drinks. If you order one and finish it, your glass will be refilled for free. This applies to drinks like:
- Iced tea
- Non-bottled water
In the US, the legal age for alcohol consumption is 21. Alcoholic beverages are not refilled for free. For these, you pay for every:
- Glass or bottle of beer.
- Glass or bottle of wine.
- Mixed drink or cocktail.
If you order bottled water, you will have to pay for every bottle you order.
Water and soda is always served with ice. If you do not like ice in your drink, tell the server.
There are also places on campus for religion. Again, the classroom is not a good place to discuss religious issues. But there are student groups where you can.
There is usually a place on campus for any religion or worship. There are also social clubs for religious groups. There are also special lectures and services for other faiths.
These groups have celebrations for religious holidays.
Class might not be canceled for some religious holidays. If you do not feel comfortable going to class on that day, speak with your professor. Explain your background to them. They will help you catch up on lessons you miss. Your classmates can help, too.
You can also practice religion off-campus. Your city or town will likely have:
Eventually, you’ll get to know your campus well. You’ll figure out the different activities and groups it offers. But as we’ve discussed, you’ll want to venture off-campus for entertainment. Most U.S. cities and towns near college campuses offer much entertainment.
TIP: Most local newspapers offer listings of things to do on Thursday each week. People find this convenient as they make plans for the weekend. If you are searching online you can enter “things to do” and the name of your city to find local activities anytime.
In the U.S., you’ll notice that people love sports. On campus, many people play team sports. But, there are many professional sports teams throughout the U.S., too.
Attending professional sports games is a very exciting activity. There are many large arenas and stadiums where professional teams play sports, like baseball, basketball and football. Going to see a game in these arenas is quite an experience. In addition to watching the sport itself, you can do many other things:
- Eat & drink. Food of all kinds is offered at these games. It can be very expensive, but it gives a good glimpse at the favorite American diet. Some of the post popular foods and drinks sold at games are:
- Hot dogs
- Sodas and soft drinks
- Socialize. Attending a game is a fun thing to do with other people. But, there are many other people around, too. You might end up starting a conversation with other sports fans sitting near you.
In order to attend these games, you must buy tickets. These tickets can be purchased:
- At the game venue (also called the arena’s “Box Office”)
- By telephone
- On the Internet
For very popular sports teams, it might be difficult to buy tickets at face value. That is, many longtime fans buy tickets far in advance from the team’s box office. If you find the box office is sold out, there are other places to buy tickets, but they will cost more. These places are called ticket brokers. Some ticket brokers are:
One of the best parts of the college experience is nightlife. Your campus probably has parties and social activities most nights. But, if you venture off-campus, you’ll find even more.
We’ve already covered off-campus dining and restaurants. That is always an option. But, there’s more to do and see in your neighborhood and beyond.
Earlier, we talked about ticket brokers who sell tickets to sporting events. Many of these brokers also sell tickets to concerts. Suppose you always loved the music of a U.S. singer or band. Now that you live in the U.S., you might have the chance to see them perform in person.
Very famous bands and singers charge high prices for tickets to their concerts. If you’re a big enough fan, it might be worth the cost. However, you might also want to explore local musical artists. There are bands, singers and musicians all over the U.S., in big cities and small towns. But most of them aren’t famous.
There are lesser-known bands of all genres, including:
- Rap and Hip-Hop
These artists usually perform at smaller nightclubs, cafés, and theatres, sometimes for free. You can discover these artists and their upcoming shows in your town’s local newspapers and magazines. This information is also on websites like:
When all else fails, you can always go see a movie. There are cinemas (usually called movie theaters) all over the U.S. Most of them play U.S. movies, usually starring American actors.
In some U.S. cities and towns, there are also independent theaters. Independent theaters play lesser-known movies, many of them made in other countries and other languages. You might find an independent theater showing a movie from your home country!
You can find out which movies are playing by calling the movie theater. You can also call to find out what time they’re playing. Movie theater phone numbers can be found in your local phone book.
There are also many websites where you can find out which movies are playing nearby and at what time. Some of these websites are:
To go see a movie, you must buy tickets. You can buy tickets at the movie theater or online.
There are also many food and drinks sold at the movie theater for you to enjoy while you watch a movie. These include:
- Soda and soft drinks
In the U.S., each movie is given a rating: G, PG, PG-13 or R. The movie’s rating indicates how appropriate it is for certain age groups.
- When going to see a movie with small children, G and PG movies are the most appropriate.
- For teenagers, G, PG and PG-13 movies are usually fine.
- R-rated movies are recommended for people age 17 and over due to the more adult topics and images in the films.