A Focus on International Students Library

Problems Faced by International Students

Students traveling to overseas countries to pursue higher education has become an increasingly popular practice in the globalization efforts (Gartman 1). While the educational opportunities of the international students are expanded in the host countries, various challenges are faced as they try to adjust to the new environment. The challenges limit the international student's ability to gain from the educational resources available to them since they affect them both socially and mentally. Using the library, homesickness, and culture shock are among the major problems that affect intentional students and evaluating these challenges offers insights on the possible solutions for minimizing the negative impact.

Using the library is listed among the significant problems that international students face in their host countries. The problem arises from the ease of use since the students are not familiar with the technologies and processes of the new libraries. In addition to the lack of familiarity, a language barrier might also make the library experience intimidating due to the limited accessibility to information presented in a foreign language. According to Hughes, “the academic library environment and its particular processes and technologies may be unfamiliar to international students” (83). Such information highlights the cause of the challenge so that the library professional can make arrangements that help the students’ transition to the new library. The educational experiences and learning experience of international students are different from those of their peers and the difference is evident “when international students are confronted with a North American academic library, which may be intimidating and anxiety-inducing” (Schomberg & Bergman 123). A new library appears intimidating to the students because they are not culturally socialized to it, implying that proper guidance can help the international learners grow accustomed to it. Understanding the factors that make the library experience for international students intimidating guides library professionals on how the challenge can be overcome.

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Homesickness also contributes towards the difficulties that the international students face in their host countries. International students are often far from their homes and may experience challenges trying to adjust to the new environment that is different from their home countries. Such a student risks missing the opportunities offered by the school because they are fixated on the frustration from the difference in culture and environment. According to Saravanan, Alias, and Mohamad, “Between 83% and 95% of people experience a certain level of homesickness when they are in a new environment and detached from familiar people and places” (108). The study suggests that international students may be psychologically affected by the transition to a new environment. Studies reveal that, “international students facing difficulties with English language and culture and experience more anxiety, stress, homesickness, and loneliness, and have less social support than domestic students” (Malaklolunthu & Selan, 834). Homesickness in this case is seen to result from the difference in language and culture implying that action towards adjustment to a new environment can avoid the psychological impact of the transition. International students have a high chance of experiencing homesickness during adjustment and failure to address it acts as a barrier to gaining from new opportunities.

Among the frustrating challenges of an international student as they seek educational opportunities in a new country is the culture shock that they face. How people from the host country speak, interact, and socialize might be completely different to the cultural practices of international students. The difference creates a challenge since interaction and socialization are key tools for gaining from the new opportunities availed to them. According to Mahmud et al., “international students experience challenges adjusting to food, weather, financial arrangement, health care, accommodation and local language” (289). A significant difference in the cultural practices of the home and host countries implies that they have a harder time interacting with the locals to achieve their goals. Cultural differences distress international students and based on research, “few international students seek individual counseling, despite the significant acculturation stressors they encounter” (Yakunina et al., 68). The risk of a negative psychological impact is thus proportionate to the cultural difference between the international students, home and host countries. Adjusting to a new culture is essential to gaining the most out of the overseas experience an international student and cultural differences hinder this achievement.

International students face numerous difficulties in the attempts to adjust to the new setting that they encounter in the host country. Lack of familiarity with the new library technology and services makes it difficult for international students to easily access the information needed to seize educational opportunities. Most international students also experience homesickness as they try to adjust to a different environment and the psychological impact affects their studies and wellbeing. Moving to country with a different culture may create a challenge as international students strive to adjust to the new way of life so as to gain the most from their opportunities. Understanding the challenges faced by international students helps the hosts formulate solutions that guarantee a smooth transition and eliminate barriers to gaining from the new environment.

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Works Cited

  • Gartman, KiMar D. "Challenges of International Students in a University Setting." MPAEA Journal of Adult Education 45.2 (2016): 1-7.
  • Hughes, Hilary. "International students’ experiences of university libraries and librarians." Australian Academic & Research Libraries 41.2 (2010): 77-89.
  • Mahmud, Zuria, Salleh Amat, Saemah Rahman, and Noriah Mohd Ishak. "Challenges for international students in Malaysia: Culture, climate, and care." Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences 7 (2010): 289-293.
  • Malakolunthu, Suseela, and Poovaikarasi Sateyen Selan. "Adjustment problems among international students in Malaysian private higher education institutions." Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences 15 (2011): 833-837.
  • Saravanan, Coumaravelou, Alizi Alias, and Mardiana Mohamad. "The effects of brief individual cognitive behavioural therapy for depression and homesickness among international students in Malaysia." Journal of affective disorders 220 (2017): 108-116.
  • Schomberg, Jessica, and Barb Bergman. "International students' use of a library's media collection." Library Collections, Acquisitions, and Technical Services 36.3-4 (2012): 121-126.
  • Yakunina, Elena S., Ingrid K. Weigold, and Alannah S. McCarthy. "Group counseling with international students: Practical, ethical, and cultural considerations." Journal of College Student Psychotherapy 25.1 (2010): 67-78.

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