There are nearly one million international students enrolled in US universities and the number has grown over the decade. With so many international students entering the US it is critical for schools to help them acclimate to their new environment. Managing on-campus cultural and social programs is a very important job aspect for International Student Services Professionals (ISSP). When international students are acclimated to the US culture, they are less likely to segregate themselves and they will have less tension with American students .
So, the question is how can university staff help these students acclimate to living in the US and to its culture? Many international students that have already acclimated to America state that it is important for students to get outside their comfort zone, interact with other students and experience the culture.
Encouraging international students to connect with domestic students is probably one of the best methods to help them acclimate. Advise them to engage in campus activities, games, clubs or actively participate in class. This helps to push them to step out of their comfort zone to interact with a diversity of students.
A buddy, friend or mentor program can also help foster international and American student connections. The students can attend university events together and swap cultural information. One benefit to this program is that the students can collaborate with homework. International students can ask questions English slang or colloquialism and they can receive help when writing essays or papers in English.
Learning About Their New Environment
Getting international students to interact with student and activities on-campus is just one step. ISS professionals should encourage them to explore the local city: visit museums or parks, shop at the mall, eat at popular restaurants, etc. Having field trips for international students that visit key places in the city is another way to introduce them to their new environment.
Aside from building connections, students will also need information about the culture and living in a new country. Many schools typically address this issue through workshops. These workshops usually cover a variety of issues international students may face when studying in the US. It is important to have an easy-to-find calendar that lists the date, time, location and topic of these workshops.
Living in a completely different country and culture can be hard. Therefore, having emotional support or someone to talk to about any struggles is essential. Connecting international students with counselors or having a hotline they can call if they need to talk can help provide the emotional support they need. Just having the knowledge that someone is there for them can provide comfort.
The most important thing, however, is awareness. These great programs and opportunities will not help students if the they are not aware of their existence, that includes domestic students. Not only does the information need to be shared, but it must allow be easy and quick to access.
Why It Is Important
International students will probably experience culture shock when coming to the US. However, the faster they can get over the culture shock and start to acclimate, the better experience they will have. International students that have shared their stories, express their enjoyment studying in the US and emphasize the importance of experiencing American culture. By helping these students acclimate quicker, you will only further enrich their education and lives.
Your Call to Action
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By: Ashleigh Cue