Often, students opt to study abroad to escape from their parents or guardians. They fail to appreciate the challenges associated with transitioning from one country to another (Altbach 126). Studying in a distant country is attributed to numerous challenges that include language barrier, culture shock, adapting to a foreign diet, getting an apartment, and commuting from one’s residence to school. Everything that an individual knew seems to have been inverted. Some students are unable to withstand the challenges associated with studying overseas, prompting them to go back to their countries. In spite of the challenges associated with studying in a foreign country, the experience makes one independent (Smith and Khawaja 705). One requires creating a connection with the local students. It enables him/her not only to learn the local language but also to get an apartment in a secure neighborhood and commute with limited difficulties.
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One of the biggest challenges that international students face is the language barrier (GU, Schweisfurth, and Day 14). When I moved to the United States as an international scholar, I had challenges in interacting with students. The official teaching language was English. I had never studied English before. Therefore, I only had a basic knowledge of English. Before moving to the United States, my colleagues encouraged me to take English lessons. They claimed that it would help me to interact with students and understand the lecturers. I did not take them seriously since I thought that having a basic knowledge of English was sufficient. I was astounded to find that the Americans used jargons that were unfamiliar to me. Besides, words like balling, intense, radical, and many others had different meanings. It was hard to understand what the students were saying. I avoided speaking with classmates due to poor English. I endured the challenge of the language barrier for three months, which to me seemed like ten years. Communicating with taxi drivers was hard. Therefore, I stayed indoors during the free time since it was hard to tour the city.
I could not socialize for three months. I only had two friends who understood my challenges and were ready to assist. I recalled the many friends that I had back in my country and resolved to go back. I talked to one of my friends about the decision to go back to my homeland, but he convinced me to stay. He said that it would not take long to overcome the challenges, which I was facing. My friend volunteered to help me learn English. He also helped me to look for a better apartment in a secure neighborhood. It eased my travel from home to school.
International students encounter challenges in managing their money. It becomes hard for the students to compare their local denominations with foreign currencies when purchasing products (Hsieh 381). Eventually, the students end up spending all their money within a short duration. Another challenge that I encountered was getting acquainted with the American dollar. I had been used to our local currency. Hence, it was hard for me to assess the value of items in terms of dollars. On the other hand, the taxi drivers took advantage of my innocence. They could charge me high for a short distance. Induration of three months, I contacted my parents four times asking for additional money. My parents were not happy with my spending. They accused me of being too extravagant. One day, I invited my friends for lunch at my place. I offered to pay for their transport. They were surprised to learn that I paid $30 for a distance that costs $15. That is when I realized that the taxi drivers had been overcharging me. I confronted the taxi drivers, and since then, they never overcharged me again.
International students go through many challenges that impact their academic performance in the first year of college (Poyrazli and Grahame 33). The primary reason for moving to the United States was to advance my educational background. I had hopes that studying in the United States would boost my academic credentials and enable me to secure a better job in the future. Unfortunately, my dreams were almost shattered in the first semester. I did not perform according to my expectations. One of the factors that contributed to my poor performance was the language barrier. It was hard to understand the lecturers. Besides, I took a long to settle down. Therefore, I had little time to study.
Understanding the factors that lead to poor performance can go a long way towards helping one to improve his/her academic achievements (Salisbury et al. 125). I decided to concentrate on the subjects that seemed quite difficult. Besides, we formed a discussion group with some friends who helped me tackle the difficult subjects. I also liaised with lecturers who spared some of their time to assist me. The study group and assistance from the professors helped to boost my academic performance. I was among the most academically improved students in the second semester.
Altbach, Philip. “Globalization and the University: Realities in an Unequal World.” International Handbook of Higher Education 18.1 (2009): 121-139. Print.
Gu, Qing, Michele Schweisfurth, and Christopher Day. “Learning and Growing in a ‘Foreign’ Context: Intercultural Experiences of International Students.” Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education 40.1 (2010): 7-23. Print.
Hsieh, Min-Hua. “Challenges for |International Students in Higher Education: One Student’s Narrated Story of Invisibility and Struggle.” College Student Journal 41.2 (2007): 379-391. Print.
Poyrazli, Senel, and Kamini Grahame. “Barriers to Adjustment: Needs of International Students within a Semi-Urban Campus Community.” Journal of Instructional Psychology 34.1 (2007): 28-42. Print.
Salisbury, Mark, Paul Umbach, Michael Paulsen, and Ernest Pascarella. “Going Global: Understanding the Choice Process of the Intent to Study Abroad.” Research in Higher Education 50.2 (2009): 119-143. Print.
Smith, Rachel, and Nigar Khawaja. “A Review of the Acculturation Experiences of International Students.” International Journal of Intercultural Relations 35.6 (2011): 699-713. Print.