Adaptation problems of international students

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Due to the recent need for globalization, several nations have experienced an influx of foreign students. Many graduates are fascinated by the possibility of a new learning environment. After some days of the semester, however, they are bound to face difficulties that occur naturally in the new school and country. It is difficult for international learners to adjust to conditions in different cultures and countries with things such as new society, food, friends, and even climate. The UK has registered the second-highest increase in the number of newcomers recently, and most of them adjust to the challenges that they encounter in the country making a lot of efforts. As people struggle with conforming to the various problems that the school leavers face in the new environments and learning institutions, there are ways that the host nations and universities can employ to assist international students.

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The most common problem that these learners experience is the cultural change. Many graduates find different cultures in the countries they visit. According to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (2017), a large number of international trainees in the UK are from China, Nigeria, India, and the USA. These states, except the USA, have incredibly diverse cultures from the UK. As such, the citizens of China, India, and Nigeria have difficulties integrating into UK’s societal norms. In addition, Wu (2015) reports that when the foreigners have difficulty or problems they, generally, rely on their friends and family. Unfortunately, trainees cannot find support, while studying in foreign countries. At the same time, Yorke (2008) emphasizes that in the UK universities the same problem can be seen more in the local students than overseas. Therefore, it is worth saying that the above-mentioned issue affects all the graduates. Furthermore, Kornienko et al. (2017), suggests that as a result of the cultural switch, the learners are bound to feel “homesickness, loss of support systems, loneliness, culture shock, lack of relationships, perceived discrimination, financial difficulties” (p.359). Also, language barrier proves to be a great challenge in addition to the need to match with the new lifestyle. Wu (2015) conducted a study where six international students in the U. S. were surveyed. The experiment showed that the foreigners could not understand English native speakers. Furthermore, according to Beoku-Betters (2004), the above-mentioned fact could decrease academic performance, because professors censured the overseas learners’ accent. Supportively, Horspool (2015) maintains that it is challenging for school leavers to write a task with deadlines in the English language. Ultimately, the graduates may get frustrated in their bid to integrate into the new culture.

Another predominant problem facing international trainees is the deterioration of their psychological and physical health. The decline in mental health is attributed to “depression, anxiety and higher levels of stress while studying at a foreign university” (Kornienko et al., 2017, p.360). The issues mainly arise from the difficulty to integrate into the new society the undergraduates are located. On the other hand, the physical health problem stems from the change in diet and climatic conditions. Unlike in their native countries where they enjoy homemade meals, the learners have to cope with take-outs or some food they whip up which eventually causes them physical and psychological problems.

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However, there are solutions to the problems which the newcomers face in their endeavour to gain knowledge in a new country. Firstly, it is vital for the learning institutions to provide the graduates with social activities so as to foster cultural adjustments. According to Bamford (2010), social network is one aspect that the schools should promote. She notes “friendships and social networks are important in helping students feel a sense of identity both with their peers and the university” (Bamford, 2010). When the international school leavers interact with local ones, they get to learn more aspects of the new culture such as the language, lifestyle, and cuisine. That’s why, the institutions should encourage the students to volunteer in various social work so as to gain better command of the local language. Additionally, the schools should put together seminars for the new international learners to meet experienced ones who are already in their institution. The foreigners who have already progressed in their learning may share their studying skills with the newcomers to help them adapt to the country’s curriculum (Bamford, 2010). An interaction between these two groups of graduates would also contribute to alleviate the feeling of loneliness, homesickness, and perceived discrimination.

Moreover, the host country should provide the international trainees with health insurance. The psychological health issues which arise as a result of culture shock are grave concerns because the students need to be integrated into the country’s healthcare system and be provided with insurance cover (Forbes-Mewett & Sawyer, 2011). Also, Forbes-Mewett & Sawyer (2011) confirm that most international learners lack health security while the others are oblivious of how health insurance works. Therefore, the country should ensure that the process of acquiring the insurance is simplified for the international trainees. Consequently, the learners would easily get assistance when they have psychological problems. Additionally, they would have access to services that would help them with the physical health concerns as well. As a result, the learners will get advice how to effectively change their lifestyles, and also how to cope with the weather in the new environment.

Ultimately, experience of learning in a new country can be a bittersweet one. The students find challenges which they have never experienced in their native homes. Consequently, the variations can cause emotional, physical, and mental problems. Fortunately, with the help of the host country and learning institutions, the above-mentioned issues can be alleviated. As a result, the students will feel comfortable, and their learning and living experience in the new country will be improved.

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Bamford, J.K. (2010). Improving international students’ experience of studying in the UK. [Online] Available at [Accessed 27 March 2017].

Beoku-Betters J. (2004). African women pursuing graduate studies in the sciences: Racism,

gender bias, and the third world marginality, NWSA Journal, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 116–135.

Forbes-Mewett, H. and Sawyer, A. M. (2011). Mental health issues amongst international students in Australia: Perspectives from professionals at the coal-face. In The Australian Sociological Association Conference Local Lives/Global Networks. [Online] Available at [Accessed: 27 March 2017].

Kornienko, A.A., Shamrova, D., Kvesko, S., Kornienko, A.A., Nikitina, Y.A. and Chaplinskaya, Y. (2017). Adaptation problems experienced by international students in aspect of quality management. [Online] Available at [Accessed 27 March 2017].

OECD. (2017). OECD statistics. Available at [Accessed 27 March 2017].

Wu H. (2015) ‘International student’s challenge and adjustment to college’, Education Research

International, vol. 2015(2015), p. 9. doi: 10.1155/2015/202753.

Yorke M. (2008). The first-year experience in higher education in the UK: Final report.

Available at [Accessed 27 March 2017].

July 24, 2021


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