By on May 22nd, 2017
International students have a lot to look forward to in America. You may have heard of the place you’re about to live for years. Even if you’ve never heard of it before, it will be a new location and culture that you’ve never experienced before. You are in for an amazing adventure that will stick you forever.
However, you’re right to be nervous, too. The good news is that the following challenges are ones you can prepare for beforehand to make your transition that much easier.
This challenge is usually inescapable for most international students. Even if you’re headed to one of those cities you’ve always heard about, no matter how exciting it is, you’ll probably become homesick.
The best thing you can do is to take action when this happens. Leave your room. Go find something to do. Even if it’s all by yourself, go find something to do.
Homesickness increases as you sit by yourself and think about it. Taking action won’t completely make it go away, but it’s the only option. The more you get out and do things, the quicker you’ll get over this challenge.
Trying to Fit In
This is only natural. No matter how comfortable you are in your own culture, when you come in to contact with a completely different one, it only makes sense that you’d want to conform.
Let’s be clear: this is not a bad thing and it’s not terrible to adopt certain aspects of a new culture. That being said, you’ll find it to be a struggle.
Our advice is not to resist it. America is probably the most diverse country in the world. The vast majority of people will not look down on you because you’re from a different culture. If anything, most people will be fascinated to learn your ways.
The Language Barrier
This is probably one of the most frustrating challenges that international students face when they come to America. They know the language, so they rightfully expect to have no issue talking to their fellow students.
The problem is that America is a huge country. While most people may speak English, you’ll find different versions in every region. Again, they’re diverse.
Our advice is the same we gave above: don’t stress about it too much. Mistakes and confusion will happen. Just accept that and have a sense of humor about it. While your fellow students may enjoy a laugh or two at your expense, it’s harmless. They’ll explain the unique version they speak.
Now, one exception to the rule is academic writing. You may find that your professors/teachers have less patience for your strict version of the language. Talk to them beforehand so they know about the language barrier you face. After that, all you can do is practice.
The vast majority of international students will have a roommate. Unless you secure off-campus housing, which isn’t always an option, you’ll probably live with someone.
In many ways, this can be a blessing. You’ll either live with an American who can show you the ropes or you’ll be paired with one of the school’s many international students.
If you don’t get along with them, request another. Plenty of people – international students and otherwise – do the same thing. Your school will most likely accommodate you right away.
The bigger problem is that you’ll become too comfortable with them and not explore the school and city. Don’t let comfort get in the way of you and fully enjoying your time in the United States.
All international students face some amount of challenges when they come to a new country. Now that you’re prepared for the most common ones, though, you should feel ready to tackle them head on.