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12 Common Problems Faced by International Students in USA
USA is home to Universities that are part of the top 10 universities of the world according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities (better known as the “Shanghai Ranking.”) This is one of the reasons why students from all across the world want to pursue higher education at American Universities. Every year, USA Universities take in around 900,000 International students.
Students feel happy and satisfied having been accepted into reputed Universities in USA. They come with great enthusiasm, goals and objectives, and to have fun in a new country. Little do International students realize that coming to a new country with the intention of staying there for a few years won’t be as easy as they may have thought it to be!
This blog will tell you about the common problems faced by International students in USA, and how they can overcome these problems easily.
Mastering The Common Language (English)
The first and foremost difficulty is faced by international students who do not have English as their native language. As English is the official language of USA and is spoken by more than 80 percent of USA’s population, it is necessary for you, as an international student, as an international student, to learn English language. International students, who do have knowledge of English language by studying in English medium schools, hold an advantage of sorts. These students have no difficulty in speaking and understanding English, but even they do not understand the American colloquial language.
So overall, every International student needs to learn the daily usage of the English language in USA because the natives will speak as they have been speaking. It is for the students to understand, adapt and blend in just a little bit for an optimum learning experience in USA.
Making New Friends
International students wait for American students to approach them as hosts. That doesn’t happen all the time. You cannot blame the natives for their cautious approach. If anyone comes to your country as an outsider, you would also be similarly cautious. So, the only remedy for this difficulty is that you approach the native American students in a slow and steady manner. Do not appear weird and awkward, just be yourself. Being who you are will always help you to cope up with loneliness at university.
And let’s face it, without local friends, how will you get to know the new country? Who will show you the best and cheapest places to eat? Your new friends will be your family in the new country. Get the right ones and enjoy the USA experience.
Locals and students from other nations often ask you about your country. Having to answer questions about your native country makes you all the more homesick. Yes, there are colonies of people from the same nation in most cities of USA, but it is not always possible to reside in these places. Universities are often centrally located or nowadays located in the suburbs as well. These colonies are almost absent in suburb and core central areas. So you have to blend in with the locals even if you don’t want to.
You can find people from your native country as well but since you have come to a new country, make connections, make International contacts and increase your network. This may also help in finding a job in USA itself or maybe in another country too! The opportunities and possibilities are endless. As for homesickness, why did you leave your country in the first place? Keep reminding yourself of the bigger picture, of your career, and you are sure to overcome it.
Hands-On Approach of the Professors
Students coming from schools and colleges where the teachers had a more hands-off approach might just find the direct approach of the American professors a bit unnerving at first. They do not know how to react and speak up. They are so used to just agreeing to what their teachers say that they apply this attitude in USA as well.
American Universities encourage difference of opinion, speaking your mind and discussions. The professors want an interactive session with the students so that students get the best educational experience. This is why American Universities occupy more than 50 positions in the World’s Top 100 Universities. The teachers here are more like peers and they want you to learn from them in the most relaxing of ways. They understand the difficulties faced by International students in USA and so strive to assist the students with an assuring hands-on approach.
Buffet Food Culture
American food portions are deceptively large, especially junk food. International students find the taste and portions overwhelming. Statistics show that over 65 percent of the students gain weight during their first few weeks in the country. And this is supported by the buffet food culture in USA University cafeterias.
Students who come from countries that do not have such a culture of unlimited food on the table often ‘dig in’! Fortunately for them, there are nutritionists available on campus. They advise the students on how to control their hunger pangs and keep themselves confined to healthy food.
New Kind of Sports
If you are an athlete, you would want to join a sports team in your new University. If Basketball, Baseball, Ice Hockey, or American Football were not popular in your country, you would be in for quite a surprise. These four sports are the most revered of all in USA. Although football (Soccer, as Americans call it) is on the rise, lawn tennis and other racquet sports are also quite popular, nothing is bigger than the above-mentioned four sports.
So, if you want to make local friends, you have to play their local sports. They’re not bad sports either. All of them are fast, competitive and fun to play! Then there are track and field sports. These are also very popular in USA, with the country home to many champion sprinters, swimmers, gymnasts etc. American Universities have a good variety of sports that you can learn and play with your new friends to bond and to stay fit.
Culture Change and Festive Periods
Students from all across the world can be seen in USA Universities. They have their own festivals and holiday periods. American holidays are not that different, but the timing of their holidays may be a bit different. For example, there is Halloween, which comes in the ‘fall’ season (autumn for us). On this day, people wear costumes (mostly related to haunted themes) and children ask for candies.
The Fourth of July holiday is USA’s Independence Day. The US citizens celebrate this day with great zeal and pride. Other holidays like Columbus Day, Presidents Day, MLK Day, Thanksgiving Day are also celebrated with fun, games and lots of food! So you should also embrace these festivals and participate to get a nice experience of the American culture.
Students from countries that have weaker economies than USA face a lot of money issues. They often end up with little or no money at all at the end of the month. This is due to a hesitation in working at any USA establishment. The only solution for these students is that they do part time job at a local restaurant or a McDonald’s. They pay around $8-$10 per hour. These shops always require extra employees because of their nature. They employ temporary employees who benefit financially for a period of time, and then they leave for bigger things.
This arrangement keeps both the students and the shop-owners happy as both their purposes are being served. So you should shed your inhibitions about service, and work a few hours every day to be able to meet your expenses easily.
New Subjects and Electives
Students nowadays do not know where their interest lies. They might be studying a subject now but some years later, they may be interested in some other subject. Not only that, they may even become proficient in it! International students face this problem as well. The education system of their country may be completely different from the USA system. They might have been forced to study a subject in their country in high school simply because it was the next best alternative to what they actually wanted.
In USA, students have interesting choices of Major subjects and Minor subjects. For example, if you want to study finance but also have interests in pursuing a literary career, you can have Finance as your Major subject and Creative Writing as your Minor subject. You can have a combination of Majors and Minors as well, like Environmental Science with dancing and singing. The opportunity to learn is limitless in USA.
Research Papers and Other Assignments
Students may never have written research papers and other such assignments before in their native countries. They are not familiar with the structure and language of these papers. Also, some students have a hard time doing research for these papers due to an apparent lack of resources and contacts.
As a remedy to this problem, students are advised to go to the University’s writing centre and get free tips to write research papers. Also, they can ask their new friends about such papers. Professors are great sources for this kind of information and as was discussed earlier, they are always ready to help the international students.
Getting Used to the Climate
The climate in USA depends on the place. If you are in the coastal regions, you will generally have good climate throughout the year. If you are living in the dry western region, be ready to face a lot of heat in the summer and cold in the winter. And if you are living in higher latitudes, the summers will be pleasant but the winters will be brutal.
For the students who come from an opposite climate to where they are residing now, it is going to be a tough transition. You will face adaptability issues initially, but eventually, you will learn to live with it. Humanity has adapted itself to varied climates and you will too, in time. Just be determined and focused to achieve your goal faster with less effort.
Not Being Able to Communicate with Family because of Time Zone Difference
This is the most common problem that many International students face in USA. Often they come from places where it is night time when it is daytime in USA. As a result, they cannot talk to their family and friends when they are free because, at that time, their family and friends are fast asleep. And when family and friends are awake and want to talk, the students are tired and fast asleep.
The possible solutions to this problem are talk at a time that is convenient to you. For example, you may call them on Friday or Saturday nights when the next day you do not have to wake up early for class. Fix some hours on one day of the week for conversation and alter your schedule around it.
These are just the common problems faced by most International students who are new to USA. There is also a constant fear of getting deported for doing the silliest of things. Relax, they will not deport you for breaking a traffic signal! Just enjoy your personal, professional and educational experience in this wonderful country. It won’t be a surprise if you do not even want to go home after your course is over!
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