The education system in the United States is organized in a way that it offers the accommodation of international students. Even though many international students get the opportunity time to pursue their studies in the US, the life of an international student in America is usually filled with several challenges, which require them to put in more efforts in order to be on the same level with the Native American students. There is an assumption that students that come from outside America are usually very good, a reason that has contributed to the lack of extra effort from the educational institutions to help them. An interview with an international student helped in elaborating the basic problems that are faced by international students in their quest for an education in a foreign nation.
This paper seeks to outline the main problems of international students in the United States.
Foremost, the use of English, both spoken and written is a common challenge among many international students. It is common sense that a student has to live in a comfortable environment in order to bring out the best in themselves. Considering that the mode of communication in America is English, international students who are not proficient with the language experience the possibility of alienation in academic forums like group discussions.
This problem is experienced by quite a number of international students, since the majority does not use English as their first languages. Even those who have been taking lessons in English in their countries of origin are still challenged by the accent and American slang (Kuo 38). This culminates into the inability to take notes during class sessions, missing out on class participation and lack of the ability to get the information that is being passed on by their lecturers. Apart from spoken English, written English is yet another problem that many international students experience.
Even though international students sit for various examinations to test their capabilities in English like admission requirements, not all of them are able to stay at par with the level of English in US educational institutions. Kuo points out that quite a number of international students are more proficient in written English unlike spoken English (38). However, the students still find it challenging when it comes to sitting exams compared to their American counterparts, with many of them asking for more time for sitting written examinations (Kuo 39).
Apart from the English language being a barrier, culture shock is yet another problem that many international students face. The American culture is quite different from other cultures, ranging from the educational structure to the social culture. The idea of introducing a new structure and system of education poses stress on international students. This is compounded by the fact that the American structure of education system to which international students are introducing themselves more often contradicts their own indigenous educational structures. For instance, African international students are accustomed to passively listening during lectures. Interruption of lectures for clarifications is considered as interference and sometimes disrespectful to the instructors (Kuo 39). The US educational structure is contradictory since it encourages class participation.
This disparity in educational structure also affects the personal study habits of the international students. The American educational structure requires that after attending lessons, students should spend most of their time in studying and understanding whatever they have been taught. Many international students are not very conversant with this kind of learning, hence are faced with challenges in trying to adapt (Alberts, Hazen 158). The academic work that is done outside class can also sometimes prove to be difficult for international students since there are numerous assignments, class presentations and report writing activities. The emphasis of originality of work done in the American educational system also proves to be another problem for international students since they are not used to such rigid measures.
A stern challenge that is also faced by many international students is their weak economic status. For international students, working full time in America is not possible considering that their visas state assistantship as the sole means of earning income. Paying for their tuition fees, accommodation and food therefore becomes a challenge (Eustace 68). Although they have to study full time, the tax system in the United States and social security is also another cause for discomfort among many international students (Eustace 69). Social issues also impact a majority of the students, some of which include matters like prejudicial treatment, discrimination and stereotyping. Even though these are issues that may also affect American citizens, they mainly impact international students because of the fact that they are in a foreign land.
The issues that have been briefly highlighted above portray a few of the problems that are faced by international students in the USA. It is important that these issues are addressed if the American education system is to attain greater results in the delivery of quality education. It is important that the education to international students should be greatly valued since it not only serves their interests but also indirectly benefits the American population.
Alberts, Heike C., and Helen D. Hazen. International Students and Scholars in the United
States: Coming From Abroad. United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. Print.
Eustace, Rosemary W. Factors Influencing Acculturative Stress Among International
Students in the United States. Cambridge: ProQuest, 2007. Print.
Kuo, Ya-Hui. “Language Challenges Faced by International Graduate Students in the United
States.” Journal of International Students 1.2(2011): 38-42