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.
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.
Grants Available for International Students in the USA
International scholarships and grants are available for students of exceptional results, those who are serious about education and would like to improve their English. Finding US study grants, scholarships and awards is simple using the internet and the database of international student organizations. There are many ways of researching the offers, and you will find that governments and private sector companies run several projects for people like you. The below guide is designed to help international applicants find the grants they need for studying in the United States.
Government Sites to Search for International Grants
EduPass has a smart student guide that provides information about cost of living, amount of funding available and sources of financial aid. The US government also has its own scholarships you can apply for, provided that you match the initial criteria. The two main programs funded by the government are the Foreign Fulbright Student Program for postgraduate education and the Humphrey Fellowship Program, for those who already have experience in their field of expertise. The American University Scholarships award is designed for high-achieving international students in the first year of their undergraduate studies.
Financial Aid Offices
If you have already selected the college or university, you can contact their financial aid offices to see what type of grants are available for you. They can tell you about the criteria, application and selection process. Several universities and colleges in the United States also have their own international student program. There are programs designed for women, just like the AAUW scholarships fellowship project providing a generous funding of $18.000 to $30.000 based on the level of study.
Local or Regional Alumni Funds
You can search the database of the Infinite Connection online to find US and international regional Alumni Funds. The Alumni Association is designed to help students get the grants and scholarships they are looking for. You can even contact your geographic Alumni Fund community manager to get information on funds available for funds available for international students. If you register on the site, you will also get information and updates of application dates, criteria and support with writing your proposal. You can also start your search in your current country: there are offices in forty locations around the world to help students. Alternatively, you can contact the student office of your current school to find out about international and regional collaborations.
Department Offices for Your Academic Field
The Bureau of Academic Exchanges controls and coordinates state-funded programs. They select successful applicants based on their background, needs and academic achievement. You can contact the Bureau to get information on government-funded programs. Alternatively, you might want to contact one of the branches located in Asia, Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa and South America. There are also several exchange programs created for international students, some funded by companies. Therefore, if you already have a degree in an academic field, you can get sponsored by a private sector organization. You can contact the Office of Designation in the U.S. Department of State to find out about private sector funds available for international students.
Five Frugal Living Tips for Students
As a student you do not have to lead the life of an ascetic to make ends meet, whereas it is imperative that you are financially comfortable, to be able to better focus on your college coursework, indulging in a few luxuries does not have to break your bank account. A key contributing factor is the amount you manage to save on your daily expenses. Keep in mind no saving is too small, and every bit adds up. Below are some broad guidelines to help you keep on top of your expenses and make your money go further.
Availing student discounts is a great way to save money. For example, the campus restaurant usually provides the best value for money in terms of price and quality. If you live in a college town, there are regular student discounts on offer for shopping, pizza delivery, event tickets and even laundry services. You can find details in the local magazine or the campus newspaper. Travel discounts for students are valid for airfares, trains and buses, as well as group tours. Amtrak, for example, offers a Student Advantage Card that gives students 15 percent off the lowest price offer.
Get Group Discounts
You can get group or bulk discounts – for shows, exhibitions, concerts and even restaurants – by buying in a group rather than individually. Many venues offer larger group discounts on certain dates or during specific hours of the day.
Books and Stationary
Your student card makes you eligible for a host of discounts on textbooks, stationary and everyday items at various stores on and off campus – your seniors will definitely know about them- keep a tab on such stores. Make optimal use of public and university libraries. These are free but excellent sources of books and other research and study materials like computers and the internet. Make extensive use of the internet in the libraries if you have a limited budget and would not like to pay for a subscription. There are several online websites offering used textbooks in good condition, so you do not have to spend money on material for each course. Don’t hesitate to ask students who have taken same courses before if they would sell you used textbooks. Computer shops also have regular student deals. You can find help with finding an affordable laptop in your area on the Lenovo website.
Get the Shopping Done Together
If you are sharing an apartment and are keen on saving money by cooking and eating at home, you can shop in groups. Find a person who has a car, or if nobody has one, get a taxi to the closest discount store together. This will save you money, as you can get BOGOF offers, as well as discount vouchers on the next shopping trip.
Get Your Coupons Together
Some people think that coupons are only for housewives, and students would surely not have enough time to collect them. The key is to “divide and conquer”. Designate teams to hunt down coupons and offers for a specific product or service. E.g. you might be in charge of “eating out” offer hunt, while another team could be in charge of supermarket or book offers. This is an effective way of stretching the dollar.