International students experience diverse opportunities at University

Rachel Kielar and Rachel Kielar

Thousands of international students representing their country or continent come to the University’s campus each year for academic and cultural experiences that, in most cases, are very different from what they have previously experienced. Many of these exchange students go home for the summer after studying in America for a semester or two. Then, they come back to start another year studying in the U.S.

Some international students find the adjustment between their native culture and American culture to be difficult.

“I like coming here and I like the school, but I miss my family during the year,” one University international student who prefers to remain anonymous said. “The time in-between is fun, yes, but that’s my home and this is my second home and the two are very different.”

International students can even go through culture shock.

Bincy Abdul Samad, a professor specializing in cultural pluralism in the United States, agrees that these differences can be profound.

“It’s all about perspective and people’s differing perspectives,” Samad said. “My perspective is going to be different from theirs and theirs different from mine. That’s natural and it’s okay.”

As far as culture shock goes, there are varying levels of ‘clashing,’ from a vague feeling similar to homesickness to the more shocking integration into what seems like another world.

Some students may find living in a culture different from their own can be an exciting adventure, but it is common for international students to go through a period of cultural adjustment.

International Student Services is a department of the University aimed at supporting international students through “immigration advising, advocacy and programming support,” according to its website.

A representative from International Student Services could not be contacted for comment, but further information can be found by contacting [email protected], calling 419-372-2247 or stopping by their office in 216 University Hall.

There are also strategies international students can use to help them with the transition to American culture.

The University of Texas recently did an analysis to better understand student affairs, especially those pertaining to cultural exchange and international students. The strategies suggested by the study to help cope with the adjustment process include the following:

-Realize that culture is relative

-Be open minded and curious

-Use observational skills

-Ask questions

-Give yourself (and others) permission to make mistakes

-Take care of individual physical health

-Find a cultural ally

-Seek out support

-Be patient