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Studying in the US is an exciting opportunity. It’s an excellent way for you to learn about different customs and cultures, make new friends, and see a vast country. If you’re thinking about becoming an international student, you’ll experience all kinds of wonderful things. At the same time, you’ll likely face some challenges.
Of those, five stand out as the most common. Knowing ahead of time what to expect while studying in America will help you prepare for them. Overall, you’ll have a much easier and more enjoyable experience.
Especially if you’ve never visited the US before, you’ll likely go through “culture shock.” Depending on the country you’re coming from, it could be mild or severe. For example, if you’re from an ultra-conservative part of the world, the freedoms you’ll see in the United States might seem overwhelming and perhaps even bizarre.
Culture shock encompasses all kinds of different things like clothing styles, currency, food, laws, entertainment, and the list goes on. Remember, once you’re in the United States, you’ll have people to guide you. So, what might seem like an insurmountable challenge at first will become easier. Just be patient.
Most students who come to the US to study have mastered some degree of the English language. Even then, communicating with others is difficult at times. Not only could you struggle with talking to other people, but they might also have a hard time deciphering your accent.
There’s a good chance the college or university you plan to attend has language courses to help. Some even have groups of other students from your country, making it possible to learn together. Initially, you might want to isolate or restrict yourself, but you’ll figure it out in time.
It’s common for students coming to study in the US to struggle with money. For one thing, American currency might seem confusing at first. Also, as an international student, you can’t legally work off-campus. That could make it hard to find a job.
If you need to work while in America, talk to your counselor or someone in the administrative office about doing something online. Also, if you excel in a particular area of study or someone wants to learn your language, you could always provide tutoring. Even if you have ample funds available, it’s essential to monitor your finances carefully.
This is another big challenge for almost every international student. After all, it’s hard being thousands of miles away from family and friends. To overcome this, view your time in America as both an opportunity and an adventure. Often, homesickness can last several months. But thanks to real-time, face-to-face apps, you can speak with your loved ones frequently.
Of the five most significant challenges, acclimating to academic practices and expectations in the US is probably the toughest. This is where you need to talk to your professors about things like homework, paper formatting, deadlines, and workload. Keep in mind that each teacher might have different criteria, so speak with each one of them.
Like the other challenges, it’ll take some time to adjust academically. But asking questions and voicing concerns is the best way to avoid dropping your grades. In addition, if you feel that a language barrier is creating an issue, whether with lessons in class or written instructions, reach out for help right away rather than waiting.
The Bottom Line
As an international student, you can anticipate some challenges. However, the school you attend wants to see you succeed. So, faculty members will do whatever they can to make the transition easier for you. Along with staying positive and focused, take advantage of available assistance. You’ve got this.