Challenges Facing International Students while Studying Abroad

Many international students are enrolled in universities abroad every year. It is a privilege for most of them. However, the experience can be problematic depending on many reasons. Many challenges do exist, apart from the language barrier which is majorly faced by these learners; there is homesickness, lack of finance as well as culture shock among others. Particularly in this essay, I will discuss three problems faced by the international students. These are challenges associated with using the library, language barrier, and personal life management.

With regards to using the library, the students face challenges that are associated with technology and language. The existence of new technologies in academic libraries possesses various challenges to the international students (Wu et al., 2015). They include inadequate knowledge regarding the skills for information retrieval, the use of information communication technology (ICT) to access information from the library and evaluating the information resources (Andrade, 2006, pp.131-154). On the other hand, the challenge of language at the library disadvantages the student from doing effective academic research. According to Schomberg and Bergman (2012) “librarians need to be aware of the students’ linguistic skills and make allowances so that the language barrier does not impede comprehension”. Thus technology and language are two reasons that international students face when they are using libraries abroad.

The other challenge is language. It has shunned the international students from proper engagement in the community as well as making them become ignorance of laws within the universities. Engagement in the community enhances the learners’ experience through beneficial activities for students such as focused group discussions (Akanwa, 2015, pp. 271-284). It leads to effective interactions among students, improved learning, and better performance. Alternatively, due to the language barrier, these students ignore laws which are drafted and implemented in English language at the universities. However, it has resulted in severe punishments for many international students. With regards to Gebhard (2012), he argued that “he felt adjusted after their English teacher who allowed students to get social support they needed as well as allowing them to learn about their new environment.


Finally, the last difficulties faced by the international students are the personal life management. This includes both the financial challenges as well as the problems associated with social relations. It is very important for a student to manage its life as it enables him/her to achieve academic goals. This involves managing money, time as well as the social life. Finance is very important to any student (Beaven and Spencer, 2016, pp. 349-367). Therefore spending money needs to be sparingly for proper upkeep of the students. However, managing finance is a challenge to these international students as they do not know what is essential to spend on as they try to cope up with the campus life abroad. Many end up being money servants and not effectively managing their finances. Gartman (2016) affirms that finances can become a source of great stress due to out of state tuition costs, lack of access to loans and scholarships as well as not being able to work off campus. Alternatively, social relations that include friends, families, and personal life are very important to any students. Lack of managing such life aspects has lowered the energy and negatively affected how many international students do things in a successful manner.

In conclusion, this essay has indicated some difficulties that face the international students while adapting to university studies abroad. They included difficulties in using the library, the language barrier as well as personal life management. The universities need to be compassionate, supportive and provide any necessary help to the international students.

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  • Akanwa, E.E., 2015. International students in western developed countries: History, challenges, and prospects. Journal of International Students, 5(3), pp.271-284.
  • Andrade, M.S., 2006. International students in English-speaking universities: Adjustment factors. Journal of Research in International education, 5(2), pp.131-154.
  • Beaven, A. and Spencer-Oatey, H., 2016. Cultural adaptation in different facets of life and the impact of language: a case study of personal adjustment patterns during study abroad. Language and Intercultural Communication, 16(3), pp.349-367.
  • Gartman, K.D., 2016. Challenges of International Students in a University Setting. MPAEA Journal of Adult Education, 45(2).
  • Gebhard, J.G., 2012. International students’ adjustment problems and behaviours. Journal of International Students, 2(2), pp.158-164.
  • Schomberg, J. and Bergman, B., 2012. International students' use of a library's media collection. Library Collections, Acquisitions, and Technical Services, 36(3-4), pp.121-126.
  • Wu, H.P., Garza, E. and Guzman, N., 2015. International student’s challenge and adjustment to college. Education Research International, 2015.

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