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Challenges Faced by International Students in the US

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.

New Culture

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 Food

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.

New Assignments

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.

New professors

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.

New Subjects

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.

New Friends

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.

Summary

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.

Connecting on Campus: How to get Involved

College is one of the best places to make lifelong connections. Walking through campus the first few weeks can be a little overwhelming; but there are plenty of ways to get involved in your college community, all of which will make your big new world seem a little smaller and a lot more connected.

Join a Club

Sororities and fraternities aren’t the only groups making things happen on campus. Most universities have clubs for specific majors, which are a great way to network. If you need a little break from educational events, look for a club that fits your hobbies. Art or dance clubs, student health associations, and film clubs, are just a few things you might find.

Many universities have activity fairs the first few weeks of school. Check your university event calendar and try to attend if this is available to you. You’ll have the opportunity to see what clubs exist and you can usually speak to current members about what the club does.

Serve

See if there is a Circle K organization, or something similar, on your campus. Volunteer organizations are another way to meet people with a common interest. Local volunteer opportunities will help you become more familiar with the area your university is located in. Sometimes these organizations take weekend trips or travel for spring break volunteer projects as well.

Get a Job

Working on campus allows you to learn your way around and really feel like a part of something. You’ll build relationships with university staff members, which can be very beneficial in the future. Those relationships can also be helpful if you’re far away from home without any adult figures or role models in your life.

Depending on where you work, you may have the opportunity to regularly interact with other students. A bookstore or café employee will have the chance to meet and assist several students. You will also have the opportunity to build relationships with your co-workers.

Intramurals

Join a team, remain active and participate in a sport you enjoy. You’ll have a chance to bond with teammates and you’ll probably interact with other teams regularly as well.

Study Groups

Have you ever heard the saying, “Kill two birds with one stone”? Study groups are the perfect way to connect with others and still get some studying done. If there isn’t already a study group for a class you’re in, consider asking a few people if they’d like to start one. If you’re in a class that is required for your major, you’re likely to be in classes with many of the same people for the next four years.

Pave the Way

If you can’t find anything on campus that suits you, consider starting your own club. There will likely be some forms to fill out, but if you have a few friends that share a common interest, take the leap and begin spreading the word.

Getting involved in a current organization or starting your own will help build a network of friends, which is beneficial to your overall health as a college student. Connect with those who share your interests and make the most of your time together.

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