Difficulties Faced by International Students

international students definition

International students bring diversity to American campuses and contribute economic benefit; however, they also face unique challenges that include cultural adaptation, language acquisition, cross-cultural communication and academic integrity issues. This article details these difficulties experienced by international students when adapting to their new environment as well as ways they overcome them.

According to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, international students are defined as individuals enrolled in educational institutions outside their country of origin with the intention of completing a programme leading to a recognised qualification – such as a degree or equivalent qualification – recognized internationally. Following UIS convention – shared by the OECD Education at a Glance publication – where appropriate, for tertiary students their country of origin should be defined as where they obtained higher education entrance qualifications (and thus are considered “internationally mobile”) however in cases this cannot be met, citizenship can be considered instead.

International students typically stay with host families during their program of study. These volunteer families offer shelter and food services for these international students. Cultural immersion can help an international student quickly adapt to their new environment and learn more about local traditions. However, the process can sometimes be challenging and even stressful. Carmel Camilleri notes that some of the main challenges international students encounter include abandoning cultural values that they find important, making concessions in order to integrate modern privileges with traditional ones, seeing their community in an inferior position within society, and inability to understand nonverbal communication.


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