Another spring semester just kicked off. How’s it going with you and your international students? Whether you’re getting to know the new faces that came all the way across the ocean, or catching up with your international students on the winter holidays, I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned during my two-year study in United States. Since I am a beneficiary of international education, I hope my experiences can help you understand your international student’s journey here.
Before coming to the states, I never thought I would experience culture-shock, because I had visited the country multiple times and had read/watched/heard so much about “Americans”; but I did. We can always learn a lot about another culture, but we’ll always have the greatest experience living in it, and my expectations differed from what I learned growing up. I still remember the day my academic adviser had a conversation with me about “being humble.” Students who grow up in the western culture are usually not shy about “bragging” about themselves; but those from the east are completely the opposite. Please encourage your international students to speak up — no matter it’s an accomplishment, a complaint, or an idea, speaking up is the only way to be heard here.
I’ve seen too many international students in the U.S. never step out of their comfort zone. A lot of students like to hang with people from the same country only, or have daily routines stick to the circle among classroom, library and apartment. Many of these students don’t even get to speak English unless they’re with you or in class. It’s very common to have a will against leaving the comfort zones, but that’s the only way to learn, not just from the teachers in the classrooms, but also from life experience.
Last but not the least, expect the change. Such a big change in life can have enormous influence on international students, especially at this age when they’re learning and growing. Your international students are encountering new things every day and digesting them; these changes help shape their minds rapidly. Encourage your international students, and help them embrace these changes. After all, this is one of the main reasons why they left home and flew across the Pacific — to learn, change, and grow.