Life of an International Student


The experience of living abroad is stimulating yet challenging at the same time. It is a period of discovering and testing your potential, so life abroad can be different from what you expect. You may be surprised to find out that what you see in movies and television programs is not always true.

America has a lot to offer for any international student: a prestigious educational system, diverse cultures, lively cities, beautiful natural parks and history. The schools in the United States offer a wide range of fields of study and degrees, contributing to the factor of why people want to study here. When asked about the reason why, international students provided a number of reasons why they chose to study in America.

“I want to learn about American culture and share my own culture with people here,” said Maha, an exchange student from Pakistan. “It feels amazing to see that people want to know about your country and traditions.”

“It makes your resume strong to have that international experience,” said Rajnesh, another international student. “Apart from textbooks, I can actually learn something practical in class.”

“The thing I like most about U.S. education is the creativity. Students are encouraged by teachers to present their ideas. I get a lot of opportunities to practice what I learn from lectures, especially in my chemistry lab class. I need to practice what I learn by performing experiments. I really enjoy it,” said Tharushi, an international student from Sri Lanka.

Living in a country other than your homeland is exciting, but it also brings some challenges. Being on your own and adjusting to the new environment, weather and people can be difficult at times, but it also provides an opportunity to learn about new things. The international students serve as a connecting bridge between countries, sharing their values and developing a sense of relatedness.

One foreign experience includes culture shock. Things might not be the same for you as they were back home. Although social media has contributed in familiarising people with American culture, which has reduced culture shock to some extent, you might still experience some. Apart from language, students seem to be surprised by the punctuality, social customs, informality, openness of people, the value of privacy and how they expect others not to invade their personal space.

“I am amazed to see how independent and self-sufficient Americans are. Students look forward to moving out of their parents’ home so they can stand on their own and be independent, and their parents want them to do so,” admitted Maha. “It is motivating to see students doing jobs and bearing their own expenses.”

Talking about culture shock, she further said, “I was taken aback by the southern hospitality and general friendliness of people. You don’t need to know someone to ask for help. People greet each other walking by and ask how you’re doing. It definitely caught me off guard a few times.”

Food seems to be a subject of interest for most of the students. While some enjoyed the new menu, most of them found it “too different” from what they used to eat back home.

“It’s fun to try new food, but I miss the spices and desi food. Also, I have gained weight because of continuous intake of cheese and fried food,” she said.

Students overall described living and studying abroad as a great learning experience where you get to develop yourself as a person. Their view is that one of the best times to live abroad is as a student. Every day brings you a new experience, and you get to learn about new things.