The Problems Faced by Foreign Students and How They Can be Overcome
Anyone who has spent time studying abroad will have some idea of the troubles and traumas that can arise when studying in a foreign country. Even those who have only studied in their home country might have noticed the difficulties faced by their international peers. The truth is, then, that while international education can undoubtedly be hugely rewarding for many students, it can sometimes also be a difficult and upsetting time in a person’s life.
“Now, it has got to the point where these problems need to be realised, analysed and tackled.”
The problems faced by international students are known to some as the problems of acculturation – the problems linked to a person’s attempt to become assimilated into and familiar with a very foreign culture. Problems of acculturation tend to occur more often when a person studies in a country where the culture is vastly different from their own. Because of this, students from Asia who travel to Europe to study (or vice versa) are much more likely to face problems of acculturation than European students who travel to other European countries. With recent increases in the number of students who are travelling large distances to study, problems of acculturation have become more and more prominent within student demographics. Now, it has got to the point where these problems need to be realised, analysed and tackled.
By looking more closely at the problems of acculturation, we can see that they fall into five broad categories – each of which needs to be remedied. They are:
- Linguistic – international students are often unable to communicate with the same efficacy as the native population. A host of problems arise around language, but the main one is that international students who aren’t fully fluent in the native language of their host country can find it difficult to form friendships as they can’t readily understand and employ colloquialisms. Language barriers can also disable people from fully understanding their lecturers, which can further lead to feelings of displacement.
- Educational – people studying in cultures that are very different to their own may not understand the educational values or procedures in their host country. For example, many universities in the east expect students to be their professors’ subordinates – valuing everything they say unquestioningly. In the west, however, a much greater emphasis is placed on discussion and students are often actively encouraged to disagree with and discuss topics with their lecturers. International students from Asia and Europe often need time to acclimatise to these kinds of differences.
- Social – this is the simple truth that international students are not surrounded by people they know or a culture they are accustomed to. This is clearly an obvious feature of studying abroad, but it can still be one that takes time to adapt to. Many students suffer from loneliness and homesickness while studying in a foreign country, even if they are, on the whole, enjoying themselves and making friends.
- Discriminatory – there is a tendency for minority groups of international students to feel discriminated against in some sense, whether it is passive or active. If students feel this way, it can cause international students to only socialise with other students from their country or culture – which can lead to further isolation and the exacerbation of other problems of acculturation.
5.Practical – common aspects of a person’s day-to-day life can begin to feel alien when they become an international student in an unfamiliar culture. Everything from the currency the student uses and the transport systems they utilise to the weather and the food will be strange to the student. When such fundamental aspects of a person’s social surroundings are altered so extensively, feelings of cultural evanescence can engulf a person.
“[I]t is essential for soon-to-be international students to research the country and city – as well as the institution – that they plan to study in.”
These five areas encapsulate all the possible problems of acculturation that a person could come across. It should be clear, however, that it is highly unlikely for a single international student to struggle with all the individual problems mentioned above. It should also be noted that many of these problems cannot be ‘solved’, as such. They are necessary aspects of studying abroad. The solution, if there truly is one, is for students to better prepare themselves for the struggles intrinsic to foreign education. In doing so, the student will allow themselves to enjoy their course and reap the unique benefits that international study can offer.
It is difficult to promote a singular solution to this many-faceted problem, especially as many of the above struggles affect different people to different degrees. However, if a student has an awareness of the culture they are travelling to before they arrive, it can help them to be less overwhelmed by the cultural difference, allowing them to overcome problems of acculturation more easily. As such, it is essential for soon-to-be international students to research the country and city – as well as the institution – that they plan to study in.
One app that has been proven to aid in this endeavour is Seeka – a mobile university search engine that specialises in finding international courses. With institutions in over 30 countries listed on the app, it is the perfect place for wannabe international students to uncover information about a wide variety of courses. While this alone already makes Seeka unique within the education industry, there are further features that only help to add to this uniqueness. Most importantly for our discourse is the wealth of information provided about the country and city that an institution is situated in. As well as this, Seeka advisors are experts in their fields and are able to dispel any worrying notions that a student might have by elucidating the realities of studying in a certain country. With these features – and countless more – Seeka enables students to quickly research the countries they are considering studying in, ultimately helping them to find an institution where they are less likely to be troubled by the problems of acculturation. By using Seeka to educate themselves about potential cultural differences, the cultural differences that a student will inevitably face will not interrupt their education or their lifestyle.
Try the Seeka app and overcome the problems of acculturation. Download the Seeka app today from the Apple App Store.
For more information about Seeka, visit their website: www.seekadegree.com
Contact Details: www.seekadegree.com
Company: The Trustee for Fresh Futures Australia Unit Trust
Name: Ado Dedovic
Journalist: Charlie Ogden
Country: Australia & Global