Nothing is perfect and while study abroad does come pretty darn close, it is not without its problems. Whether it’s the cultural norms tripping you up, you are missing home like crazy, or you are lacking motivation for your studies, many international students experience a number of different challenges unique to their life abroad.Being an international student is an incredible experience, both in schools and colleges. Many students travel from all over the world to attend universities in different part of the world. While many of the students do well in this new environment, most still face struggles at one point or another.
Moving to a completely different area of the world at a young age is undoubtedly an exhilarating experience, it is indubitably overwhelming and may result in difficulties.
Many think that the problems are related to social interactions. However, the academic challenge faced by international students can be much greater than that of their peers or social status. They are confronted with academic change, culture shock, and homesickness. Which can ultimately result in an incessant struggle for these students to adjust to their new surroundings, and fitting in which thus aids strain to an otherwise difficult life transition. While the transition from school to college is difficult for all students, the academic challenge faced by international students is far more complicated and hard than that of an average student. Furthermore, the cultural and social challenges both can also put a strain on both their academic and personal lives.
- The Academic Challenge:
The most substantial challenge that international students face is adjusting to the new academic ways and expectations. Schools overseas have different expectations for homework, deadlines, citations, workload, paper format, and communication in general. International students may or do find it difficult to take on more work or accommodate the new academic format. It might take them some time to get feasible with what must be done and when it must be done.
The Solution: Talk to your teachers! Most professors want to help their students succeed. Though it may make you nervous at first, utilize resources like office hours and study groups. Stop in to talk to your instructor if you are struggling with an assignment. It is perfectly acceptable at North American universities to actively seek help when you are having a hard time. If your professors are unable to help you themselves, they can refer you to resources that they think will be helpful, like your university’s academic writing center.
- Getting lost
No matter how many maps you pour over or street names you memorize, you will inevitably find yourself in a sticky situation in an unfamiliar place –LOST.
Solution:First of all, do not panic. Your initial response may be to freak out, but even if it is the late hours of the night or you are in a sketchy part of town, you WILL get through this!Come prepared for any adventure around the city with handy maps. Write down helpful phrases in the local language pertaining to your situation, such as “Help me, I am lost” or “Can you please direct me to the nearest hotel/gas station/bus stop?” Travel guidebooks are especially helpful and usually contain a section dedicated to this very problem.If you are extra travel-savvy, you will also keep a stash of emergency cash, perhaps at the bottom of your purse, for these very situations.
- The Financial Challenge:
Apart from academic challenge one of the most colossal challenges faced by international students is that of finance. International students face a plethora of financial issues. Why?
International students are not legally permitted to work off campus:
This is a major financial and social issue that international students have to face. These students are not legally permitted to work off campus. It increases their difficulties because they neither have proper connections or resources nor the permission to work abroad. So, there are very limited mediums for an international student to fulfill their financial needs. This ultimately affects their process of learning due to added stress and anxiety.
However, it is permitted for them to work on campus, but this also has drawbacks as it affects time management and academics both.
The exchange rate between US and international currencies is high. This gives aid to another financial problem. As when comparing marketing values, it most certainly leaves them anxious and stressed, and therefore adds to their social and academic issues as well.
Solution:Student should apply for student loan or scholarship. Most can countries allow international students to work 20 hours per week and full time during holiday so they can take advantage of this opportunity to assist themselves.
- Language Barriers
The Problem: Even if you’ve been speaking English for your entire life, learning to understand native English speakers can be a major challenge. Depending on where you are studying, the dialect could be almost impossible for you to understand right away—native English speakers can also have trouble understanding the dialects of English speakers living in regions different than their own.
Even if dialect isn’t a factor, speed and slang certainly are added obstacles. Native English speakers may speak so quickly that you can’t separate the words, and they may use lots of terms and phrases that mean absolutely nothing to someone who is not well-versed in English colloquialisms. Being unable to communicate fully in English upon arrival at school can make it very difficult to make friends and to fully succeed in your classes.
Solution: Make an honest effort to familiarize yourself with local cultural norms and lingo. If you are not fluent in the host country’s first language, carry around a translation dictionary or fill up your smart phone with related foreign language apps. Interact and make friends, this may seem difficult, but really, a university is the perfect venue for meeting people with whom you share common interests. If you take time to communicate with your new friends exactly what your language limitations are, many of them will work to accommodate your needs.
The more you speak English with your new friends, the easier it will become to understand their speech and to generate more of your own. Also try to watch news channels on TV.
- Time zone annoyances
Trying to navigate two time zones on opposite ends of the planet can be frustrating at best. You constantly have to double check which times are appropriate to which time zone, and get in the habit of making phone calls very early in the morning or late in the evenings.
Solution:If you carry a smart phone, it is advised to add any relevant time zones to your time keeping apps. Commit the time difference to memory (6 hours behind, 12 hours ahead of time + 1 day). The sooner you can do this, the easier things will be on your end – though you might still need to constantly remind your friends and family back home what time you will be online to chat
The Problem:Leaving your country to other country to study is a major transition, It’s easy to quickly fall into homesickness, especially if you find yourself feeling isolated. You may start missing your family, your friends, the customs of your home country, and even the food you are used to eating.
Solution: the solution to this struggle is to make friends! While it’s great to call home sometimes to chat with your family and friends, you shouldn’t rely on this contact to keep yourself from being homesick. Instead, you should spend lots of time with new friends. These can be both international students like yourself. You may find that it makes you feel better to tell your new friends about your life at home, to sometimes speak your native tongue with friends from your country, to teach foreign words to native English speakers, and even to expose your new friends to the foods you are accustomed to eating.
7.Feeling like an outsider
You suddenly look around and feel very alone. You are surrounded by “others,” and your looks, your fashion, your inability to communicate in the local tongue, or your general presence is very obviously… different. Never before have you felt so out of place or disconnected.
Solution:Find peace in knowing it’s unlikely that the locals are deliberately trying to make you feel unwanted in their culture. While you are a stranger to this new land, you will start to feel comfortable in no time – it might just take you a few weeks to adjust.
Try to make friends. I know it sounds like an easy task, but it does take effort to establish and cultivate meaningful relationships, especially across cultural boundaries. Your efforts will be well-rewarded, though; you will gain a friend and an ally. This relationship might give you the foot in the door you need to start feeling safe and relaxed in your new country, instead of separated and awkward.
There is no doubt that international students face tremendous difficultieswhile studying abroad but the benefits outweigh the challenges and the issues. It is a great honor to study abroad and to be an international student, but this does come with eventual issues that must be faced time and time again. They say that patience is a conquering virtue, and maybe being patient is the key to facing most of these difficulties as people endure these things to promise themselves a better future.