OPINION: Unique challenges for international students

Justin Phan, Staff Reporter

As an international student in the U.S., I have always struggled with the new challenges that lay in front of me. After more than 5 years, I know what the biggest challenges have been for me, and have learned to deal with them.

New Assignments:

In a college course, the teacher will likely grade his or her students on tests, papers, and class attendance. For me, doing research and citing sources in written assignments has always been a problem.

When I first came to Seattle, I had problems with research papers as I had never written anything like it in high school in my native country. I couldn’t relate with the structure of a paper and academic sources and citations. It took a lot of my time and work, on my own and with tutors, to get a good grade.

After a while, my writing skills became some-what better.

For those that may be struggling with writing papers, I suggest stopping by the writing center. They provide free help, and this will help tremendously.

New Professor:

Many college professors in the United States want learning to be a collaborative experience, and encourage students to ask questions both in class, and outside of class.

For international students, who come from academic environments with hand-off instructors, being able to approach instructors is a cultural change.

If you are having problems with this, I suggest trying to consider faculty as your friends in the learning process, and not your superiors.

New Subjects:

Many colleges and universities require students to take a set of general education classes, regardless of their majors, to help expose them to a wide variety of subjects. To me, this came as a surprise because I only expected to take classes that related to my major. Even though this was a strange to me initially, I came to realize that the extra classes, like meteorology, were exposing me to topics that I wouldn’t know about otherwise.

My advice is that you should keep an open mind when it comes to these types of courses- you may even discover academic passions you didn’t know you had.

New Friends:

College life is not restricted to the classroom. A big part of college experience happens outside of the class, and for international students, integrating socially can be a hurdle. For the first two months, I had trouble accepting people and building relationships, but after I learned how to make friends, everything became better.

For people who have this problem, my advice is that you should get involved on campus in activities because this is a great way to meet new people. It can be academic clubs, social organization, or even part-time jobs.

New Food:

In America, weight gain is relatively common among new college students who aren’t accustomed to daily meals at buffets. For international students, adapting to new food in unlimited quantities is a huge challenge.

If you having trouble with weight gain and things that are associated with food, colleges usually offer wellness services and nutrition counseling to help with food choices.

New culture:

In the United States, there are people mixing from cultures all around the world. Yet, American culture is distinctive, and might be different to other cultures.

Accepting new cultures can be really hard for a lot of students. For people who have this problem, I advise to interact with people, as this will help you realize how other cultures different and unique.

No matter what challenges that you are facing in college, remember that you are not alone, and there are people out facing the same obstacles you are. Colleges campuses provide a variety of resources for students to help them overcome these obstacles.

So “keep calm and study on.”