Essay on Problems facing international students

In their endeavor to study in foreign environments, international students encounter several problems. Some of the challenges include financial constraints because they study far from their homes, language and culture difficulties (International student, 1). The problems facing international students are a matter of concern because Redden states that many universities depend on these students for their income and smooth running. This proposal looks at the challenges facing international students in detail. It will narrow down to look at language and cultural problems facing the international students. It first begins with a broader view of the problems by looking at them globally then it narrows down to the problems by the students studying in the colleges in the United States. These problems will be discussed in line with those problems faced by the students in Arizona State University. After looking at the current states of the problem and reviewing several literatures, this proposal provides recommendations to solve the problems that the students are facing.

Overview of the problem

Background to the study

In many colleges across the world, international students get exposed to several problems in their learning process. Kun states that the challenges are more or less the same, United States not being exception (95). In the past years, admission of Students to colleges in the United States was difficulty due to policies that hampered movement into the state. The foreign students in the State were those that had acquired citizenship in the country. However, with the open economy, more and more students of different origins easily get a chance to study in the United States. Kun records that in the year 1980, 155,000 students were awarded visas to state in the United States (Kun 95). In the year 2002, the number got doubled to 315,000 students (Kun 96). He however states that a lot of students are from the Saudi Arabia regions. One of the reasons why these students come in large numbers in America is due to the King Abdullah foreign scholarship program. Students from countries such as Australia, United Kingdom and Canada also record high numbers. Such diversity increases the challenges faced by the students and further complicates chances of finding common grounds and solutions.

Problem statement

One of the major problems that the students face is language barrier because most of the international students are usually non-native speakers. According to Monk, many international students in the United States come from Saudi Arabia (1433). She adds that the students usually suffer from low English levels and have cultural ties that hamper their success in the United States. This challenge is a major concern because it hampers and raises other issues. One, language barrier makes it difficult for the students to learn because of the difficulty in understanding. Because international students are faced with many language diversities, finding a common ground for creating understanding becomes a problem to the faculty itself. Language barrier not only hampers learning skills in relation to a career but also prevent learning about a certain culture. Kun highlights that international students go to other countries to gain skills, lean about new ways of doing things and be able make new friends (52). Because of language barrier communication gets hampered as well.

The international students therefore, cannot easily socialize with others leading to a state of being homesick; an issue normally experienced in Arizona State University. In relation to language another problem the students face is culture (International student). Culture relates to language because it is through culture that symbols that create a certain language are formed.  It is important to note that each country, locality or even community has its own culture. The culture defines how people should behave, the values and beliefs that they should hold. Culture, in summary, defines the accepted code of conduct.

Understanding one’s culture is important in creating effective relationships with others. It helps people to stay at peace with one another because it prevents problems from arising. In the United States, different regions have different cultural tendencies. In learning institutions in the United States, culture is usually defined by preferred ways of communication, time of arrival, way of dressing and many more. Culture becomes a challenge for international students to easily to adapt to because on most occasions, it lacks similarity. …..states that new students find themselves in problems because their behaviors and dressing codes usually differ from those that are required in their colleges.

Literature review

In relation to culture, .international students find it difficult to new ways of life because they differ from theirs. An interview with one of the students clearly showed that the student had problems in the waking hours because they differed from their home country (Ramadhan Uniting Homesick students). At his home, the student woke up late and hence fell into a problem adjust because the university acquired them to wake up early. The report states that culture also portrays itself in terms of religion. A challenge arises to international students especially if they find that their religion differs from that of the institution.

An example of a religious situation that is also visible in Arizona State University is where some students are Muslims while others are Christians. Adapting to culture in relation to celebrating religious events becomes a challenge because while the events are of much significance to some, they lack meaning to others.  Kun also states that culture also portrays itself in terms of food. The international students, especially freshmen find it difficult to adapt to the kind of food eaten. He adds that most of them starve themselves before finally adopting to the kind of food eaten.

According to Monk different symbols create language difficulties to the international students (1430). In the United States, English is the commonly used and official language. International students with low English knowledge are usually faced with leaning difficulties. A case in the State university is where international students record low grades because of the diversity in language. Apart from the symbols themselves that make language, difficulties are observed in terms of pronunciation. The challenges have led to difficulties in socialization. In the Arizona State University, the language barrier has led to isolation of the students. Another emerging scenario is where international students from one region come together to form a group that carries out several activities together. Such groups are not healthy in higher learning institutions because they create boundaries, ethnicity and make it harder to penetrate into other cultures.


The challenges faced by international students, though complex, can be solved if proper strategies are put in place. In relation to culture, this paper proposes that the university faculty should put measures in place to prevent cultural shock. The cultural shock is usually experienced when students get exposed to totally different cultures that they were not aware of. The management teams in the Universities, including Arizona State University should arrange international students to meet after successful application. It is important for the students to meet even before joining the university. Such session will enable the students to learn each other’s culture and be able to socialize. It is an important step because upon joining, cultural shock is prevented because the students are already aware of the culture of the institution and that of other students. Furthermore, the students will find it easier to adapt to the culture because they have information of what it entails and were prepared to adapt to it. In addition, the meeting will enhance easier socialization of the students upon joining that will do away with isolation and the feeling of homesick.

The paper proposes that for culture to be adopted easily, institutions should practice incorporation of all students regardless of their country of origin. Racism or discrimination should be prevented by banning use of terms that can be demeaning such as the ‘negroes’. Because each culture has diversities, there should be flexibility in the institutional culture. For incorporation, it is important to revise institutional objectives to realize goals of the broader community. The culture of the foreign students should be tolerated upon joining because it will make it easier for the students to learn. It is also important to inform the students about the events of the university and encourage them to participate in them
In relation to language, this proposal suggests that international students with low English should receive additional training on the language from the faculty.

It is worth noting that the language problem contributes to the low performance that is recorded by international students. Giving them additional language studies will enhance understanding in both coursework material and even culture. It will also enhance socialization and promote understanding and unity among the students. For easier learning, universities should adopt an interactive learning approach if they use a teacher-learner approach. This approach will make it easier for the professors to get to know the problems faced by the international students and the areas of difficulty in their course work. The paper also proposes that the students should receive additional tuition because of the language barrier. The tuition will enable them to be at pace with other students. Not only is the step important to the universities but it will contribute to a better and informed economy. It will also contribute to understanding between nations that are important for other economic and even political cooperation.


The comfort of international students in foreign colleges should be paid attention to because of several reasons. The exchange programs and financial contribution they make enrich an economy, the American economy in this particular case. The exchange of knowledge and skills contributes to an informed and productive state. Furthermore, the diversity brought by the international students is by itself a plus. It links universities to others abroad hence allowing exchange of skills and professionals that are necessary for a country to succeed. Kun also highlight that international students in the United States promote democracy and the economy hence increasing America’s competitiveness (71). The paper has highlighted the importance of inclusivity, prior meetings and extra tuition for the international students as matters that are important to addressing the problems faced by the international students.

Works Cited
International Student. Challenges facing International Students in the United States and How Colleges can help the Students. Web. 9 Dec, 2014. Link
Kun, Yan. Chinese international students’ academic stressors in the United States. College Student Journal. 42:2(2009): 39-96. Web. 9 Dec, 2014.
Monk, Janice, Graduate education in the U.S geography: Students career aspirations. Annals of the Association of America. 2, 19(2002): 1432-1449
Ramadhan Uniting Homesick Students.  Gulf News. (6 September 2009). Web. 9 Dec, 2014.
Redden, Elizabeth. Strategies for Saudi students’ success. Web. 9 Dec, 2014.