Studying in the U.S. is an exciting goal for many international students. And many students are pursuing their goals by studying abroad in the U.S. According to the Institute of International Education (IIE), in 2013, the recorded number of international students who studied in the U.S. increased by about 36 per cent from what it was a decade ago. Moreover, during the 2015-2016 academic year, the United States hosted an all-time high number of international students, reaching over a million, according to IIE. However, many international students encounter some difficulties in the course of their study; today we want to look at the Ghanaian Students Top Challenges in the USA.
If you are planning to study abroad, knowing some of the possible challenges you may face and how to overcome them will help you prepare adequately for this exciting new experience. This is why the Ghanaian Students Top Challenges in the USA has been prepared for you.
1. Overcoming Language Barriers
Many international students, although scoring high on the TOEFL exam, arrive at their programs underprepared in comparison to their classmates who perform at higher levels in their writing and communication skills. This is due to English not being their first language.
It becomes extremely intimidating and can cause insecurities within the student early on in the program. Often times international students do not succeed at a high level in their communication courses and/or do not step up in leadership positions within group oral presentations. International students are therefore encouraged to begin to learn the foreign language before leaving for studies as well as mix with the locals so they can learn faster.
2. New culture: The United States is often called a melting pot, mixing people from cultures all around the world. Still, American culture is distinctive and might be different from your own. When you arrive in the US, you will be immersed in a different culture than you are used to at home. Known as “culture shock,” the intense feelings of homesickness and irritability you may experience when travelling to a new country with a different language and customs can feel overwhelming at first. American customs at restaurants, in the classroom, and in everyday life can feel strange if you are used to another culture.
To get up to speed quickly, on everything from tipping to communication styles, here are some tips on overcoming cultural barriers in the United States:
- Prepare for culture shock and understand common remedies.
- Teacher-student relationships are rather informal in the US particularly compared to the Asian education system. Get an understanding of how students and teachers interact.
- Be open to making new friends as soon as you can upon arrival. Also, look to your fellow study abroad students as a support network and a place to share and learn about common practices in the United States.
3. Making New Friends
International students wait for American students to approach them as hosts. That doesn’t happen all the time. You cannot blame the natives for their cautious approach. If anyone comes to your country as an outsider, you would also be cautious. So, the only remedy for this difficulty is that you approach the Native American students in a slow and steady manner. Do not appear weird and awkward, just be yourself. Being who you are will always help you to cope up with loneliness at university and having local friends will enable you to get to know the new country as well as the best and cheapest places to eat. Your new friends will be your family and will boost your USA experience.
4. Battling Homesickness
Having to answer questions about your native country can make you feel all the more homesick. But if you keep reminding yourself of the reason why you left your country in the first place and keep your mind on the bigger picture of your career, you are sure to overcome it. Another way around it is to blend in with the locals, make international friends and contacts and increase your network. This may help in finding a job in the USA or in another country.
5. Hands-On Approach Of The Professors
Students coming from schools and colleges where the teachers had a more hands-off approach might find the direct approach of the American professors a bit unnerving at first. However, it is worthy of note that American Universities encourage difference of opinion, speaking your mind and discussions so feel free to speak up. The professors want an interactive session with the students so that students get the best educational experience as well as learn from them in the most relaxing of ways. They understand the difficulties international students in the USA face and so strive to assist the students with an assuring hands-on approach. This is why American Universities occupy more than 50 positions in the World’s Top 100 Universities.
6. Buffet Food Culture
American food portions are deceptively large, especially junk food. International students find the taste and portions overwhelming and this is supported by the buffet food culture in USA University cafeterias. Students who come from countries that do not have such a culture of unlimited food on the table often ‘dig in’! Fortunately for them, there are nutritionists available on campus. They advise the students on how to control their hunger pangs and keep themselves confined to healthy food.
If you are an athlete, you would want to join a sports team at your new University. If Basketball, Baseball, Ice Hockey, or American Football were not popular in your country, you would be in for quite a surprise because these four sports are the most revered of all in the USA. There are track and field sports and these are also very popular in the USA where you’ll find many champion sprinters, swimmers, gymnasts etc. American Universities have a good variety of sports that you can learn and play with your new friends to bond and to stay fit.
8. Financial Difficulties
Students from countries that have weaker economies than the USA face a lot of money issues and they often end up with little or no money at all at the end of the month. This happens because they hesitate to work at any USA establishment. The best solution for these students is to do a part-time job at a local restaurant or a McDonald’s where they could be paid around $8-$10 per hour.
9. Course of Study
Students nowadays do not know where their interest lies. They might be studying a subject now but some years later, they may be interested in some other subject. International students face this problem as well because the education system of their country may be completely different from the USA system. In the USA, students have interesting choices for Major and Minor subjects. For example, if you want to study finance but also have interests in pursuing a literary career, you can have Finance as your Major subject and Creative Writing as your Minor subject, you can have a combination of Majors and Minors as well.
10. Research Papers And Other Assignments
Students may never have written research papers and other such assignments before in their native countries. They are not familiar with the structure and language of these papers. Also, some students have a hard time doing research for these papers due to an apparent lack of resources and contacts.
As a remedy to this problem, students are advised to go to the University’s writing centre and get free tips to write research papers. Also, they can ask their new friends about such papers. Professors are great sources for this kind of information.
The climate in the USA depends on the place and may be totally different from those international students are familiar with in their home countries. If you are in the coastal regions, you will generally have good climate throughout the year. If you are living in the dry western region, be ready to face a lot of heat in the summer and cold in the winter. And if you are living in higher latitudes, the summers will be pleasant but the winters will be brutal. You will face adaptability issues initially, but eventually, you will learn to live with it. So endeavour to have appropriate clothing to suit the weather.
Studying in the U.S. is a great opportunity for international students as U.S degrees put students at an advantage when it comes to jobs opportunities in their home country. Now that you know the Ghanaian Students Top Challenges in the USA and how to overcome them, you are good to go so we wish you all the best.