How Does It Feel to Be an International Student? Things They Don’t Talk about
The USA accepted about 800,000 of learners from China, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and India in 2018. The same year, more than 721,000 international students studied in Canada. Youngsters continue making their way to the most developed countries, and numbers continue growing. Some people visit Canada and the US as refugees, the others want to discover a new culture here.
Every international student has his/her own story, but all of them have something in common. They leave their native lands to find a better life. They separate themselves from friends, parents, and familiar places to make a new start. While the financial problems are central for them, there are more difficulties to face. They have to learn a foreign language, understand a different culture, and change all of their living habits. Psychological conflicts, alienation, and pressure are hard to find, but they do make this difficult step and invest all of their energy into it. Let’s reflect on some unobvious problems international learners have to face.
Most international students are feeling depressed and lonely when appearing in a foreign country. However, in most cases, they hide these feelings because they cannot allow themselves to be weak. Their parents did so much for them, so there is no room for complaints and doubts. Most of them claim that they miss their home, but they cannot permit such thoughts. The expectations and invested resources are too significant.
English-speaking regions are diverse and multicultural, so they accept immigrants gladly. There are so many programs and special events organized for foreign learners, and so many investments are made every year to support them. However, all of these benefits can work in the opposite way. They encourage learners to become a part of the society they are in. This is hugely pressing and can lead to various inner psychological conflicts. What is more, no program or financial support can fill the gap of loneliness and alienation.
Each international student knew that he/she would miss home after leaving abroad. But there is something one cannot prepare to – the overwhelming feeling this decision will bring. Not only you don’t have someone to discuss your day and share your problems. You are no longer a part of your family, you cannot communicate with them closely, and take part in family decisions.
Being an international student means that you have a privilege. Your parents took care of you and your future. This is something not every family can afford; that is why international students are under the enormous pressure of parents’ expectations. They are waiting for something great from their children. Not just mediocre and moderate. Kids just cannot fail or quit because this will be a tough situation for them. At the same time, it is really hard to concentrate and study when you are under pressure. Nothing prevents us from being productive more than stress and fear of failure.
Of course, starting a life in a country with different norms and ideals is hard. However, there is something even harder – solving internal conflict. When you are used to a particular cultural and social environment with its values, should you forget about them and accept the new way of life? Can you stay yourself in another (or even opposite) environment? Should you adopt the new principles and make them yours? Or should you keep up with the traditions of your native country even when you are abroad? Of course, the perfect solution here is to find a balance, but is it possible? And how to find it?
Some international students say that they don’t have too many difficulties with social integration. They can accept the new mindset and change their attitudes. However, what if they will come back home one day? The worst thing here is to get stuck between two cultures being foreign for both.
For that reason, some foreign learners prefer to communicate with people of their own nation only. They try to stay who they are and never forget their roots. What is more, reintegration into your native culture can be even more challenging than the adoption of another one. The feeling that you don’t belong anywhere is the worst thing learners can experience.
There is a myth about international students. Most locals believe that they are wealthy and live a luxurious lifestyle. Well, maybe some of them do, but this stereotype is not the case for everybody. The reason for such an idea is that international learners have to pay for education three times more than the locals. Such a high tuition fee makes people think that foreigners are rich. However, in reality, it doesn’t mean that all of them have an impressive bank account to boast of. Most families save money for years and sacrifice everything to let their kids study abroad. Some of them make savings for decades, the others take loans, still, others spend all of their salaries and pensions to support youngsters. In general, there are as many wealthy international students as local ones.
Reasons why learners go abroad
Of course, the main reason for all foreign students to make such a challenging step is realization. They are here to become better, to construct new versions of themselves, and reach the light at the end of a tunnel. Those who manage to deal with loneliness, financial problems, and inner conflicts reach the height that is unimaginable for local students. International students do the impossible when they overcome all the difficulties connected with relocation. They do something they have never thought they will, and this is the most valuable thing you can get in life.