The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of International Students

The Academist

Being an international student studying in the U.S. and Canada would mean a lot of things. First, the change of environment provides many challenges. The difference of culture, foreign policies, managing finances, and a plethora of other factors, are all things students should be made aware of before their journey abroad begins.

Studying abroad allows you a unique opportunity to learn and immerse yourself in an entirely different culture from your own. Use this chance to learn about others; meeting people from various cultural backgrounds allows the mind to be more accepting, aware, and understanding of people. It also allows you an opportunity to show others who you are, and how unique you are, because of where you originate from.

Laws are known to vary by region or country; however, there is no need to allow foreign laws or policies to scare you. Through social interaction with your peers, it will become apparent to you what the society expects from its people. If you have any doubt or questions on what you should or should not be doing; simply ask someone, or there is always Google.com.

Managing finances is a tremendous topic that can make or break the success of your experience when schooling in North America.  All foreign students need to take in account that tuition for an International student is triple of what a domestic student must pay. Rates, and cost of tuition vary by learning institution; make sure you are aware of the cost associated with the institution you plan to attend. Ensure your finances can cover tuition, along with additional money for instances of emergency.

The Struggles of Language Barriers

Coming from a foreign country could mean for some people, learning a new language, or learning to better articulate, read and write in another language. In North America, English is the primary language spoken in professional or academic settings. Students coming from other countries shouldn’t feel discouraged by the difference in language. Many colleges and universities are aware that not all their students have English as a first language; because of this they have created programs that help students, learn and become more confident with their English. Speak with your school’s international office to learn how to become enrolled in ESL (English as a Second Language) programs. ESL courses are designed to help students learn English, for them to be successful in their academic career. Studying abroad comes with enough challenges, learning English shouldn’t be one of them.

Challenge of Feeling Alienated

It is easy to have such ill feelings of alienation especially when you are out of your home country. In the U.S. and Canada, international students seek social interaction from their school peers or work colleagues; this is because they may not have family or their direct support system close by. This could lead to feeling alienated or alone.

If you are an aspiring international student, keep in mind that such feeling could come over you. And if you find yourself being faced with such feelings, you should get yourself socially active in the community. Being on- campus allows you easy access to many social events such as:

  • Joining clubs or groups fitness classes

  • Attending local events and festivals

  • Volunteering

  • Supporting local sports teams

The advantage of activities such as these goes, beyond helping you curb feelings of alienation, it also gives you networking opportunities that could later assist in your career.

How to Deal with Finance

As previously discussed, finances are a huge topic when considering studying in the U.S. or Canada. For many international students, this would be the first time leaving home, and leaving home for a foreign country along with managing their finances for the very first time, could be an extremely intimidating experience. Prospective students should inform themselves on banks and banking account in the North American country they choose. Seeking financial advice from your school’s financial institution could provide insight on multiple options for banking and student banking options. Online research could also aid in your search for perfect bank that will suit you.

Integrating Family

If you plan to come with your family (F2 visa) while you study abroad, it is vital that you are aware of the isolation your family might feel; and how to help them transition into the new society better. The main F1 visa holder will be allowed to work and attend school, on campus or outside, if granted with an Optional Practical Training (OPT); however, all family member that hold an F2 visa, will be limited on working or attending school. The F2 visa holder can become involved in the community, or the F2 visa holder may be able to check with their  college or university to see if they have any integration programs or counselling available. Ensuring your family is integrated into the society is a key point to ensure everyone’s stay abroad is productive and enjoyable.

Be informed on the pros and cons when studying abroad, being informed allows for better preparation. Please know that if the financial burden that it might take to study in North America is your biggest concern, or you need assistance; refer to our scholarship page. We have thousands of scholarships international students can take advantage of. We want to help you, make your academic dreams come true!