Foreign students in the US face a host of issues that they need to deal with effectively to ensure their period of stay in the nation is happy and fruitful. Some of the common problems include the cold weather in winter (depending on the location) as well as coping with the demanding course work. In this article, we list the common challenges faced by international students in the US and advice on how to handle them effectively.
The United States is called a melting pot because people from diverse ethnic backgrounds and cultures live here harmoniously. In fact, New York City is home to residents hailing from more than 100 nations. Yet the US has its own distinctive culture which can take a while to adapt to for students from conservative countries. For instance, interaction with professors is informal and on a first-name basis. College administrations do their bit for foreign students by providing resources and hosting events to help them mingle with the community.
New arrivals at a US campus tend to put on weight especially if they stay in the college dorms. Daily meals are offered in unlimited quantities at the restaurant buffets and this can be too tempting for some. Besides typical American fare such as burgers, pasta and pizza can play havoc on your waistline if you are not too careful. So foreign students need to be smart and eat healthy foods to stay in shape for their course work, athletic activities and of course partying.
Most students from foreign countries are used to being graded on tests and papers. In the US, class participation is important and students have to do research and cite their sources in their assignment papers. This can be a tough challenge but there are resources available on the Internet that can be referred to. College campuses also help out by offering writing centers that provide the necessary tutoring to help international students get good grades on their research papers.
Most college professors in the US encourage students to participate in class discussions and are open to offering advice and help regarding course work in their offices. If you get an assistantship to work with a professor, make the best of it and gain valuable knowledge from him or her. It can indeed be a cultural novelty for students from places with more of hands-off instruction. Our advice is to not regard professors as your superiors but as partners who can help you learn more.
Most US universities and colleges offer a diverse range of subjects especially at the undergraduate level. So don’t just stick to engineering or business courses for example. Some students are shocked that they have to take history or religion courses and struggle with electives. But such subjects offer you exposure to topics that you wouldn’t have pursued otherwise. So keep your mind free and open, and try to cultivate new interests and academic passions at your US college.
College life is not just about academics. Making friends and creating networks is also important to help you lead a fulfilling social life and move ahead in your career. Try to mingle with your classmates and go on sightseeing tours with them around the city and even to other places. Plenty of students in your class may be from other towns or countries and you can hook up with them for these sightseeing tours. American professors encourage teamwork for class discussions and written assignments and you can utilize this opportunity to create your own intimate circle of international friends.
Life is all about facing challenges bravely and carving your own path towards your set goals and destinations. So imbibe the international student experience in the US with an open mind to succeed in your academic life.