Studying abroad: The culture shock

Studying in another country is terrifying for a lot of people, especially for those who do not speak the local language. Many barriers also arose for international students due to the culture differences, language barrier as well as homesickness. After all that, why is studying in the United States still very popular? Most people would argue that an American degree is more respected throughout the globe. While that may be true, the United States is also a great place for making connections. On average, around one million people immigrate to the U.S. per year.

Ukrainian international student Valery Borodina, said that she sometimes feels homesick in the U.S. According to Borodina, she faces many stereotypes. Borodina said that many people come up to her and assume that she drinks vodka every day and that they would assume that Ukraine is a part of Russia, instead of its own country.

Julia Mak, International Student Association officer and international student, said that the hardest challenge she encountered in the U.S. was overcoming the culture shock and the difference in values that sometimes make her frustrated and uncomfortable.

Moroccan international student, Rime Oujdi said that aside from the culture difference, the language barrier is one of the most difficult problems to overcome. “My first quarter was stressful because I didn’t know how I should behave or talk to give a good image of myself. I couldn’t trust anyone since I don’t know the mentality of Americans,” said Oujdi. Oujdi also advised future students to learn about the American culture and slang to help them to integrate easily.

International student ambassador, Grace Li, said that her English listening and speaking skills still need improvement. According to her, class discussion and after-class chatting are still hard to conduct due to the language barrier. Li advised future international students who will be taking credit classes to strengthen their English speaking skill before coming to the U.S. so they will not have a hard time adjusting to the new environment.

For Indonesian international student, Jeselin Andono, one of the hardest things she has to overcome studying abroad is living alone and managing chores while balancing with school work. Andono added, “Studying in the U.S. is a very fun and rewarding experience that has allowed me to learn lots of things and mature in many ways. Not only does it serve as providing academic knowledge, studying abroad also encourages me to learn life skills such as adaptation and responsibility.”

“I will say that the main problem I faced [when] I moved to the U.S. is making American friends within the college. The culture shock was very intense during the first months,” said international student and Student Programs front desk assistant, Safae Zniber. English is Zniber’s third language, making it quite an effort to speak it fluently.

For decades, the U.S. has been a nest for international students to flock to. Many people, especially Americans, seem to overlook the challenges they face for being international students. The awareness of the obstacles international students face can be a good thing to know, since it makes people more competent in working with people of different backgrounds especially now in this globalized world.