Studying in the US is a great opportunity for Ethiopians. Having a degree from a USA tertiary institution puts you at an advantage in the employment market. However, international students’ time in the US might present a real challenge for them and knowing how to deal with both academic and social challenges can help international students overcome them. Moreover, getting involved in campus activities and utilizing the universities’ on-campus resources can help international students adapt to their new lives. Since every problem has a solution, let’s consider the top challenges Ethiopian students face while Studying in the USA. Let’s also consider how to overcome them.

1. Mastering The Common Language (English)

This is the first and foremost difficulty faced by international students who do not have English as their native language. As English is the official language of the USA and is spoken by more than 80 percent of its population, Ethiopians need to learn the English language. International students, who have knowledge of the English language by studying in English medium schools, hold an advantage of sorts. But even they do not understand the American colloquial language. This is one of the challenges Ethiopians face while studying in the USA.

How to overcome it

Constantly practising the American Language (English) can give you perfection in understanding the language, the accent and ensure smooth communication with friends, lecturers and other people.

2. 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 similarly cautious. So, the only remedy for this difficulty is that you approach the natives 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 with loneliness at university.

How to overcome it

Make friends in the USA to enjoy your stay as you balance your ambition. Without local friends, getting to know the country would pose a challenge to you. Local friends are in a great position to show you the best and cheapest places to eat. Your new friends will be your family in the new country. Get the right ones and enjoy the USA experience.

3. Battling Homesickness

Locals and students from other nations are likely to ask you about your country out of curiosity. Answering such questions can make you all the more homesick. Yes, there are colonies of people from the same nation in most cities in the USA, but it is not always possible to reside in these places. Universities are often centrally located or located in the suburbs as well. These colonies are almost absent in suburb and core central areas. So you have to blend in with the locals even if you don’t want to. This is yet another of the challenges Ethiopian students face while studying in the USA.

How to overcome it

You can find people from your native country as well but since you have come to a new country, make international contacts and increase your network. This may also help in finding a job in the USA or in other countries too. The opportunities and possibilities are endless. To overcome homesickness, keep reminding yourself of the reason you went to the USin the first place and of your career. This way, you are sure to overcome it.

4. Cuisine

American food portions are deceptively large, especially junk food. International students find the taste and portions overwhelming. Statistics show that over 65 percent of the students gain weight during their first few weeks in the country. And this is supported by the buffet food culture in USA University cafeterias.

How to overcome it

Students who come from countries that do not have such a culture of unlimited food on the table often ‘dig in’! Fortunately, there are nutritionists available on campus. They advise the students on how to control their hunger pangs and keep themselves confined to healthy food.

5. Culture Change

Students from all over the world can be seen in USA Universities. They have their own festivals and holiday periods. American holidays are not that different, but the timing of their holidays may be a bit different. For example, there is Halloween, which comes in the ‘fall’ season. Thanksgiving Day is also celebrated with fun, games and lots of food.

How to overcome it

Embrace the new culture and learn from it, it may have a positive influence on you. Equally, embrace the festivals and participate in them to get a feel of American culture. Moreover, try to participate during festivals too to have fun over learning about other cultures.

6. Financial Crunch

Students from countries that have weaker economies than the USA face a lot of money issues. They often end up with little or no money at all at the end of the month. This is due to hesitation in working at any USA establishment. The only solution for these students is to do a part-time job at a local restaurant or a McDonald’s. They pay around $8-$10 per hour. These shops always require extra employees because of their nature. They employ temporary employees who benefit financially for a period of time, and then they leave for bigger things. This is one of the major challenges Ethiopian students face while studying in the USA.

7. Academic Challenges

International students face the problem of not knowing exactly where their interests lie. Plus the education system in their countries may be completely different from the USA system. Thus they might be forced to study a subject simply because it is the next best alternative to what they actually wanted.

How to overcome it

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, like Environmental Science with Dancing and Singing. The opportunities to learn in the USA are limitless.

8. Scheme of Work

Students may never have written research papers and other such assignments 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.

How to overcome it

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 and they are always ready to help international students.

9. Different Weather Condition

Immersing yourself in a new climate and environment can make international students nervous. Trying to cope with the weather might not be easy. But if you are in the coastal regions, you will generally have good climate throughout the year. If you live in the dry western region, you’ll 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.

How to overcome it

When packing, take weather appropriate outfits. Take items of clothing that will suit each weather thus keeping you warm and protected especially in the winter. Also, keep extra cash for shopping when you get to the USA, you might need additionally weather appropriate outfits. Taking tea and coffee can also help you keep warm. There are also winter sports like skiing and ice skating which are fun and can help you stay warm. This is another of the major challenges Ethiopians face while studying in the USA.

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