Studying in the United States is a dream for many international students. This is mainly because the education system of the United States offers a real lot of excellent options. In spite of the language, educational and cultural differences, their main objective of coming to the United States is to study. By and large, the experience of studying in the United States leads to a unique kind of personal growth. To be successful, to be in a position of coping with the challenges, an international student generally needs to shift gears from what might have worked at home.
International students in the United States are usually very engaged in educationally purposeful activities. In most cases, they come to the United States for a number of reasons. These include pursuing academic goals and accessing education and training that is not available in their home countries. Some of them also seek to acquire prestige from institutions of higher learning in the United States.
Apparently, many others come to the United States to escape the unstable political as well as economic conditions that are prevalent in their home countries. This is on the basis of personal as well as social development. Additionally, the ethnic/racial milieu of international students and the proportion of international undergraduates on an institution usually indicate mixed effects on the engagements of students (Lee & Rice, 2007).
The American society is very diverse now that at any other time. It is therefore imperative for international students to effectively adapt to working with people from diverse backgrounds. This kind of diversity is very essential since it assists the international students to learn how to live and work effectively with others who differ from themselves. This experience also increases their cultural sensitiveness and skills in working with people from different backgrounds.
A number of international students become exposed to new values, attitudes, as well as behavior patterns. These experiences are usually transformative since they are quite different from what it is back at their home countries (Leonard, 2007). In most cases, international students experience a culture shock as a result of the different cultures that they come across while in the United States.
Sometimes, students worry about the cultural differences. As a result, they usually end up being confused. Unlike it is back home, the participation of students in class is usually welcomed and often required (Peters, 2010). Additionally, critical discussion is encouraged. In this regard, one does not merely have to repeat what is said by the professor, instead, the contribution of an individual viewpoint is expected in papers, discussions, as well as exams (Lee & Rice, 2007).
Another key difference is that the reading assignments in the United States are extensive, much more than an average international student is used to handling in a week. Additionally, students in the United States are continually evaluated on performance, not just at the end of the course as it may be in other countries (Leonard, 2007). It is also worth noting that pluralism is a fact of life, being a key value not only among students, but also in the American society at large. Apparently, tolerance for others is anticipated. This may not be the case in other countries.
Another thing that international students need to understand is the standards of academic honesty in American institutions. This is because unlike it may be the case in institutions of other countries, it is very important to include quotations as well as citations in all research work and assignments. As a matter of fact, differences in standards can be very challenging to international students. Something that may pass as an innocent oversight or a cultural mix-up can easily result in charges of plagiarism. Cases of plagiarism have very stern consequences in the United States. It is therefore of great importance for international students to comprehend the standards of academic integrity and thus integrate them in their work.