Social Barriers

International students who are new in a different environment would always feel helpless to establish the social networks as in their home countries at first. Actually, international students often have more limited social networks. Most of new comers feel a little bit hard to make new friends here. Some international students only hang out with people from their home countries.

As a matter of fact, the struggle with language and insufficient adjustments have led to few international students actively participating in student societies at the universities and other American social life.

Except the language and culture barriers, shyness is another factor that hinders international students to be more actively involved in Ameircan social life. Sometimes, when finding Americans roaming and discussing within their groups, international students would feel a little bit hard to catch up with them and awkward to join the talkings.

Advice to Improve Integration

There is always a long way for international students to go before they feel that they are part of the American life.

Here are some suggestions for international students:

1. Find people to interact with. Don’t isolate yourself from others. Smile and be friendly with others no matter where they are from. Open to the outside world. By taking an interest in other people, you shift the focus from yourself to the outside world.

2. Try to find some associations and organizations for internaional students on campus. Talk with experienced members of the international community. They have been where you are and can offer advice and support.  Ask them what has helped them the most, and what they have found to be most difficult. The International Center in universities, for example solutionInternational Center at UF. They always host programs where can know more people or some local families or some social events throughout the year that would connect you to community members who are happy to talk with you. 

3. Adapting to the new culture while retaining your own identity. Cross-cultural adjustment and integration means adapting to the new culture while retaining your own identity. Extremes of completely giving up one’s own culture or refusing to accept anything about the new culture and clinging fearfully to old ways are both unhealthy.  Learn to recognize cultural differences and modify the behaviors that are necessary to live comfortably in the new culture.

4. Look for activities hosted by the universities. The main responsibility for integration lies not only with the international students, but also with the universities. There should be services from universities and a supporting structure in place that would enable international students to be more included in campus life and more active in social life. Universities should also make some efforts to create more events, in which international students can join and interact with others. For example, lots of international students would probably be interested in going to meeting places such as debates with some international themes.