When international students decide to study abroad, they are usually full of high expectations, instead of worry with regard to their new life in a strange land (Lobnibe, 2008). While preparing to come to study abroad, a number of them do not plan for their new living. This is because they are usually occupied with preparing things like VISA and as such, do not create enough time to carry out research on their new life. Eventually, they leave their homeland with sweet dreams, only to arrive in the United States and face unexpected challenges (Lee & Rice, 2007).
One of the major problems that an international student has to grapple with is how to communicate their opinions to Americans as well as other international students. In as much as they may have received very good scores in TOEFL, they usually have language problems. As a result, they face difficulties when they have lectures at school (Lee & Rice, 2007). This is mainly because it is difficult to experience English conversations in their home countries. Though they practice speaking and learning English, they prefer speaking their own languages.
The other problem has to do with culture shock. Culture shock refers to a condition of perplexity that affects an individual who is suddenly exposed to an unfamiliar culture or set of attitudes. In many ways, international students are confronted by an array of cultural adjustments (Lobnibe, 2008). During such a period, an international student has to get used to the food as well as the language and the way of life. It is usually quite difficult to adjust to a new culture. Some of the students become overwhelmed, especially when they have to submerge themselves to a totally new culture (Lobnibe, 2008).
In most cases, rather than help international students to try and understand as well as accommodate their unique needs, they are usually left by the institutions to adjust and become accustomed to the host culture. International students have problems in the areas of lessons, finances, housing accommodation, making friends, as well as homesickness (Lee & Rice, 2007). Some of these issues are a major hindrance to their social integration as well as academic progress (Peters, 2010). Different food tastes, opinions regarding sexual openness, perceptions of time as well as gender roles are some of the cultural adjustments that an international student has to encounter (Leonard, 2007).
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Financing an international education is another key concern for any international student. The fact that it is expensive to study abroad cannot be denied. One has to have enough money before arriving in the country, or be supported from home. This is mainly because the cost of education in the United States that includes living expenses, tuition, books and other things is above the reach of many.
In addition to this, international students also have feelings of isolation and homesickness. This is especially during their own holidays where they miss friends and family. As a result, a number of them resort to calling or sending letters to their families back home. This makes them feel lonelier. Furthermore, during American holidays, international students are usually left in ‘empty’ towns since their American colleagues leave to be with friends and family.
All in all, in spite of the challenges that an international student has to encounter, studying abroad is a worthwhile cause. This is because of the international exposure it brings with it, including an opportunity to learn diverse cultures. In most cases, the facilities offered in international institutions are usually better than those offered elsewhere. In addition to this, there are usually many opportunities for job attachments as well as job openings when they complete their studies. On completion of their studies, most international students boast of good social as well as international development. On the whole, an international student benefits greatly.