The U.S. is often described as the land of opportunity. This is as a result of government policies which have positively affected all the sectors of the US economy. Little wonder that international students from all over the world seek to study and become beneficiaries of the numerous opportunities the USA has to offer.

The US is surrounded by major Atlantic Coast cities such as New York which is a global finance and culture centre. The Midwestern metropolis of Chicago is known for its influential architecture and on the west coast. Los Angeles is the heart of Hollywood famed for filmmaking and contribution to the country’s entertainment sector. Studying in the US is amazing but not all rosy. Let’s look at the Top Challenges Kenyan Students face while Studying in the US and how to overcome them.

Kenyan students have consistently proven that they are of the bulk of highly educated African non-immigrants in the US. A large number of Kenyans hold at least a Bachelors degree. This indicates that African international students are both intellectual and cultural assets to American universities and colleges. Sit back, relax and let me take you through a succinct voyage of the challenges Kenyan students face while studying in the US. I’ll also let you in on how you can overcome them.

  • Immigration and Visa

Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, restrictions on immigration have toughened. Getting into the US has become more difficult. The process, from the application, and submission of documents, to the interview and eventual handing over of the F1 visa. This requires a strong resolve to be able to follow through to the end. This is one of the challenges Kenyans face while studying in the US.

How to Overcome it

You are expected to read up and understand vital information bordering on obtaining a certified US study visa. You can also make inquiries at the US Embassy in Kenya. By so doing, you won’t become frustrated and give up on the application process.

  • Financial Pressure

Before a Kenyan arrives in the US, the major challenge would have been funding for most students. Unfavourable, economic factors such as the alarming exchange rate, deflation in the students home currency and economic recession poses a big challenge. Upon arrival, the cost of health insurance stares the student in the face. It then becomes difficult to fully focus on academic programs while facing financial pressure. This is also one of the challenges Kenyans face while studying in the US.

How to Overcome it

To reduce or totally eradicate the pressure, you can consider applying for as many scholarships as you’re eligible for. You can also consider working to augment whatever money you have. In addition, you can consider contesting for competitions which require using your innate skills. For example, singing, dancing, essay competitions and so on. Lastly, applying for different grants could be worth it.

  • Language

Having passed the English proficiency exam, chances are you’ll battle with communicating with fellow colleagues who have the US accent. Discussions in class and presentations could put you off the balance if you do not prepare yourself and build confidence.

How to Overcome it

Constant communication with locals and listening to radio or Television programmes could help you understand the accent. This will go a long way in making communication easy and effective. And if you choose to learn the American accent, that could be a positive step and could be to your advantage.

  • Climatic Change and Living Condition

You could have a difficult time adjusting to varying weather conditions within the US. Cities like Pennsylvania and Alaska are known for their differing weather conditions. This could create a feeling of frustration. Heating up the house during the winter and choosing meals necessary for different weather conditions should be considered seriously. Undoubtedly, this is one of the major challenges Kenyans face while studying in the US.

How to Overcome it

Ensure to be conversant with weather forecasts. This will help you know how to dress when leaving home. Breaking down with pneumonia is a common occurrence for international students in cold regions. Do well to ask questions so you can act accordingly.

  • Politics and Policies

The enthronement of governments through an elective process gives rise to new policies which could override the old ones. Peradventure there are policies which once encouraged a smooth transition for immigrants, a new one could rubbish the policy. In fact, it could make the transition process difficult. Kenyan students, just like most African students seeking to study in the US, have become victims of government policies. Policies which do not favour students coming into the US to study and remain in the US after studying. Policies were more favourable to international students in time past.

How to Overcome it

Ensure that you have no criminal record and no error in any of your documents. A slight error could serve as a red flag. Officials at the embassy could turn your visa application down as a result. You are expected to be meticulous in filling the form and be adequately prepared for the visa interview.

  • Family Pressure¬†

Some international students are the breadwinners of their families especially those from Africa. This puts unnecessary pressure on them as they feel obligated to send money back home. Some of these students, who are leaving their families and loved for the first time often feel disorientated. The transition from leaving home, settling down and adapting to the new culture could be draining. Also, adjusting to a new environment which is diametrically opposed to what obtains in Kenya isn’t always easy. It is yet among the challenges Kenyans face while studying in the US.

How to Overcome it

You are expected to prepare adequately. By so doing, you won’t be sourly hit by challenges as they come. Maintain a support system in the US to fill in the gap occasioned by your temporary departure from home. Ensure your family understands that you need sufficient time to settle in before sending them support.

  • Financial Difficulties

Most Kenyans studying in the USA are self-sponsored and are not always financially stable. Another issue is that of deflation in the exchange rate which ridicules the value of the Kenyan currency. This often results in psychological feelings of stress and uncertainty which drives students to be involved in “under-table jobs.” Such illegal jobs are against the immigration policies of the US and could attract sanctions on the students.

How to Overcome it

Just like every other African student, you are expected to apply for scholarships and grants. Putting your innate skills (singing, dancing, painting and so on) into good use with an entrepreneurial mindset comes in handy. It will help you mitigate the financial pressure. The F1 visa enables students to work to raise money to sustain themselves in school. You can utilize this opportunity to make money, gain work experience and improve your network.

  • Academic Difficulties

The teaching-learning process African students are used to is diametrically opposed to what obtains in the USA. In America, students engage in classroom discussions, presentations and critical thinking. This could take some time to get used to.

How to Overcome it

Dynamism and adaptability are key. You are to be open towards adjusting to new modules of learning and instruction. Strive to get involved with class and group activities. This will easily get you flowing with the system.

  • Social Difficulties

Laws within cities in the US tend to tame your social excesses. Some Kenyans ignorantly go against these laws and are often found liable by Law Enforcement Agents and sometimes, the court. When this happens, you could become psychologically and socially disoriented. You could try to abide by some laws, yet, find out you are breaking laws unintentionally. Adapting to the bustling social life in the US could be sweet and sour. Sweet when you’re having adequate fun. Sour when you get carried away by the unending fun.

How to Overcome it

Ask questions constantly. Asking questions is better than being locked up in prison for an avoidable offence. If you want to have the American experience and balanced academic life, understand the rules and follow them. American universities and other groups have orientation programs detailing how best to manoeuvre the academic environment. They also reveal possible challenges that could pop up from your stay as a student. These orientation programs cover social challenges such as drunk driving, sexual harassment, street fighting and so on. Attending orientation programs will help international students settle down seamlessly.

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