Nowadays, a large number of international students study abroad in well-developed countries such as the UK and the USA in order to achieve their desired degree level. The number of international students who study abroad has been increasing every year (BBC, 2009). The two major reasons why students choose to study abroad rather than their home countries are languages and the quality of education. The former is because English is widely used throughout the world, studying abroad is the perfect opportunity to learn the language. The latter is because of world-class academic standards and cutting-edge educational facilities.
Overseas learning could contribute to students being successful in their future career. However, leaving home to study in a new country could be a frustrating experience. Many students confront problems while they are studying in new countries; for instance, the culture shock and language barrier as well as a different style of learning (UCL, 2010). The purpose of this essay is to discuss what difficulties international students might experience while studying in the UK and some possible solutions will be suggested to deal with these problems.
It is obvious that the difficulties that international students may face are miscellaneous. Firstly, during the initial adjusting period, overseas students might experience a culture shock due to obvious cultural differences. This often happens when people move into an unfamiliar way of life (UKCISA, 2008). The UK is probably one of the most multicultural countries in the world (Benedictus, 2006). Therefore, students need to adapt to their new life in the UK and accept different cultures. This includes food, weather and activities.
It is also possible to say that cultural differences lead to homesickness, which most students suffer from. Additionally, this problem may also affect students’ academic performance. To resolve this problem, there are several ways that students should prepare themselves. For instance, finding information about UK culture before they start living the UK, which may help students to understand how they are expected to behave in UK societies or even studying how to cook their home countries’ food and therefore be more independent.
According to Thurber & Walton (2007), another solution is to join clubs at which they can participate in activities that they are enthusiastic about. Hence, students could make some local friends who are interested in the same area as them to learn about different cultures and avoid longing for their home country. Apart from cultural differences, most international students especially who are not native speakers may struggle with communication (Keele University, 2011). A language problem is probably the most common difficulty among students studying abroad. Students might have different individual language problems.
For example, some students have a problem with speaking this is owing to the fact that they stay with students who come from countries with the same native tongue and speak only their first language; thus, their speaking skills cannot be improved as quickly. Some find they have a problem with listening, especially in dealing with regional accents and slang words. Nevertheless, this language problem is also associated with individual confidences. A great number of international students are lacking confidence in speaking English; consequently, they are afraid of communicating in English.
To tackle this problem, spending more time on English such as attending language courses is an effective way to improve English skills (UKCISA, 2011). Moreover, trying to speak English in daily life and finding friends who are not from their home countries can help students to gain more confidence and familiarity with communicating in English. Finally, another problem is the approach to learning. Undoubtedly, studying is the first vital priority for every individual student. In the UK, students are encouraged to be critical thinkers.
Their independently formed opinion, creativity and ability to dispute others’ opinions to cope with new problems are evaluated (The British Council 1999). Nonetheless, many international students find it difficult to be critical in a short period of time (Misra & Castillo, 2004). A good illustration of this is students from South East Asia who are not immediately familiar with the concept of critical scrutiny regarding their lecturers or text of an academic nature; this is because they are taught to consider it is inappropriate to do so (Hofstede, 1991).
It takes time for international students to be customary to this approach. To handle this issue, universities should provide some special programmes, which relate to methods of learning to assist students alter their perception of learning. In addition, tutorial classes can give opportunities to express and exchange student’s opinions to tutors privately for the students who hesitate to do so in classrooms (Cook, Macintosh & Rushton, 2006). In conclusion, despite the benefits of studying abroad, international students may confront some issues, which make them feel uncomfortable while studying in the new countries.
This essay has already discussed the problems with regard to international students studying in the UK and giving some solutions to sort them out. On balance, just as there are several problems that students may encounter when studying in the UK such as the disparity of cultures, language problem and a new methodology of learning. However, if the sensible strategies, which I have advised, are taken into account, students might be able to mitigate these problems efficiently.