Studying in the USA, pursuing your American dream of getting the best education, getting the best job, and making friends in university is something everyone expected before arriving in the country. As you were planning all this and waiting to begin your university life, reality hit you like a truck, and all your dreams came crashing. The truth or real-life experience of studying in a foreign country is different from what many expect.
From the immigration process to finding the best accommodation, it is a journey of its own. Also, just when you think that you're starting to settle in, new challenges arise. If you are going through something similar and need help through all such issues, read forth as I've compiled a list of problems and their solutions for international students in the USA. Also, remember that not everything can be solved instantly; you have to have patience and zeal to make it to the other side.
First and foremost, we must acknowledge the issues or problems we're facing and not put up with these for the good of our mental health.
Many students ignore their problems and think that things will get better if they just wait. If we close our eyes thinking that we cannot see the world, it doesn't mean the world can't see us. Similar is the situation with our problems; ignoring them doesn't mean they'll always go away.
I'm not saying that every single one of you might've gone through the same. There are seven billion people in the world, and many of us end up meeting the good, the nice, and the best ones. If you happen to have an exhilarating or peaceful university life, then it's good, and we wish you luck in the future. Here are twelve such common problems faced by international students in the USA for the rest of us. See if you can relate, and always remember admitting one's struggles doesn't make one a loser or a cry baby. It just means you're brave enough to reach out for help.
Moving to another country requires a hefty amount of money and the money being in dollars adds much weight to the already intense financial requirement. Students have to pay their university visa fee, and when they enter the country, they're required to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee. After all these sorts of payments, students and their guardians go through an interview round to qualify for entering the country. There have been instances where the students or their parents were denied entry and were deported back to their country of origin. This results in separation and a lost student having to go through the entire process on their own.
Finding accommodation is the next step for settling in and trying to find accommodation near the university you'll be studying in. University dormitories are the best solution for international students as it allows them to stay on campus and save on the daily travel expenses. But, students often don't get accommodated in the dorms easily as there are many criteria to be fulfilled, and there are more students on the waiting list than the number of available rooms.
Try finding an accommodation that fits your budget; websites like Nestpick, Uniplaces, and Homelike are useful for that. Also, you will meet more students in the university, course seniors or new friends may help guide you better for nearby housing and prices.
Studies show that 22% of university students in the US live in university dormitories. 55% of students live in rented apartments, and the remaining 23% live in purpose-built, off-campus housing.
International students in the USA face problems finding accommodation near the university as it is expensive and more than their budget. It is advisable to find a travelling route and get familiar with the city before the university commences. If you know the necessary information and are willing to explore, you won't get lost.
Setting into a new academic environment is one of the toughest parts of travelling to a new country for academia. Getting used to a very different educational environment from what you're used to can be challenging, and many students struggle with that. Be patient and keep learning; get help from friends, professors, or course seniors if you're facing academic challenges.
When we get to this one, many will think, do people face such problems? Well, yes, of course, it is a major problem that cannot be ignored, and many students worldwide go through it. A new country may introduce you to different cultures, different frames of mind, different languages, and different cultural norms.
It can be culturally shocking for many, making it hard to approach people and meet new people. Be liberal and accept the differences among you and the new people you meet; try finding common ground for conservations to flow. Be respectful to the various people of different cultures and backgrounds, hang out with your new friends to get familiar with each other.
Facing financial crises is common amongst university students, and it can happen for many reasons. Lifestyle expenses, fees, academic material requirements, utility bills, living expenses, and more, students have to pay all of these and keep their stomachs filled. The luckier ones get money from their parents while others work part-time to meet their needs. Get a part-time job if you need one but heed the university regulations regarding working while pursuing your degree.
In university, you will meet many people, and most of them are going to be nice regardless of cultural and social differences. But there have been cases where students face social prejudices due to their financial situation or cultural background.
A recent study at UCLA conducted for over 640 students found that students faced racism while interacting with professors, campus staff, peers, potential employers, and the larger groups of native people.
Racism is a big issue faced by people across the world. It is not just a university issue but is it much bigger than that. Meanwhile, most students have not encountered such problems. There are instances where it is seen as a big issue in the US. The Stop Asian Hate campaign became popular, especially in the US, due to the hate towards Asian immigrants in the US. Also, the Black Lives Matter campaign started in the US. Both these social campaigns depict that racism is a big issue in the country of the USA.
Many students visit the country for exchange programs and face language barrier issues. Also, knowing a language and talking to a local is totally different. For International students facing problems in the USA, they can try and get familiar with the language through your friends from the same country of origin. Keep practising and talk to people even if your language knowledge is limited.
Yupp, it is a thing; even in 2022, people can go through it. The social norms and cultural differences may take some time for students to settle. Be liberal and open yourself to new experiences. Be acceptable and respectful to people's choices even if you do not agree with them.
Listening and conversing in a new language is a challenge for many. Some international students face trouble understanding the lecture and reading notes in class. The rate of speech of native speakers is fast and hence difficult to understand for beginners.
This one is also challenging as many cannot control their sleep and other body cycles as they abide by a schedule. Moving to different time zones may disturb natural processes, leading to various health problems. Be persistent in getting used to a new plan and seek help from a medical professional if required.
Last but not least, homesickness is a big issue that many international students face. It is majorly due to flight tickets being very expensive, and students can't afford to get a flight every semester, so they have to stay away from their family even on holidays. It is an issue I do not have the solution for, but remaining beside your friends may help you cope with it.
No matter what the issue is you must be patient and reach out for help when needed as it will lower your burdens. Getting help is easy, reach out to a friend, mentor, professor or the student’s council. The solution to every problem exists, you just need to meet the right people and have courage.
A student council is a form of democratic government body formed by the students and the university's students. Students from different countries, races and courses come together to address the students of the university.
The student's body is not only for students of the USA but also helps international students to work in collaboration with various other students. They work to balance their academics, clubs, student budget and learning while working in a shared environment. You can know and adapt many social, transferable and managerial skills while in the student council.
For students facing migration issues or in case of denied entry in the country, getting assistance from the country's consulate is an optimal solution. Also, to avoid such problems in the first place, people need to check and recheck their documents before travelling to the US. Students who get temporary stay permission and need to submit their records within 90 days after entry can get help from the university's students council for guidance.
Racism is unacceptable at every level and must not be tolerated; students must inform university authorities or the students' council of such issues. It is a grave matter and must be brought to light as many students go through it. The student's council plays a vital role in addressing such issues as the university authorities may silence the concerned students. Still, it is the responsibility of the students' government to speak up about such issues and help students.
Being an international student moving to another with an entirely different curriculum can be challenging. It takes months or even years to settle in and start with one's academic and professional life. Many students struggle and drop out due to such challenges; it's okay, they did what seemed the best solution, and there's nothing wrong with that. You must know you're not alone for the ones still struggling, and you can reach out to your friends if you're working. Your student loan might be big, but that just makes it more important for you to try harder. Maybe all the issues aren't as great as they seem. Every student going through the same struggles must find a way to get past them alone or preferably with the help of your friends and family. Be patient, keep going and keep thriving, and you will find that there are plenty of things you learned.
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