In the recent years, colleges and universities have witnessed a tremendous increase in foreign student enrolment. Since 1993 there has been 30 % increase in enrolment of international students (Davis, 2002). This growing number has called the attention of education experts to help student solve their problems.
Adjustment and Social Support Issues
This study was designed to investigate the foreign student’s adjustments issues and social problems. The problems include language proficiency, social integration, financial issues, homesickness, role conflicts and problems in daily tasks handling (Davis, 2002). The sample for this study was based on the informants chosen having different cultural background such as Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Japan Italy and Korea.
Ten interview based open-ended questions were developed to guide the interview process
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The data was collected through interview from 15 foreigner students. Some demographic variables were controlled to get a wide range of perspective.
What are the most significant adjustment difficulties after reaching the alien country?
In the answer to this question all of the students said that they experienced significant problems in their early stage of adjustment. They faced issues regarding language proficiency, social integration, time management, food incompatibilities, living practicalities and most of all academic stress due to change academic style. However, it was noticed that in all these issues academic stress (50%), language (50%) and difference in culture and values (50%) were the most profound problems faced by the foreigner students. In the case of food the Chinese students were a little satisfied as they were able to find place where can get Chinese food, however, being student it was not easy for them to eat food in cosine or hotel all the time.
Do you feel comfortable in making friends at new place?
Making new friends was also very stressful for the students. This is often due to the fact that most of the students were not very proficient in speaking English. However, many were in view that they felt shy while speaking English due to uncommon and not having vernacular dialect. This made them uncomfortable while making friends, and it took time or they tried to find someone from their own country to become friends with.
Did you face stress or anxiety while adjusting at new place?
This was one of the questions to judge the adjustment level of the students; however, the results reported that it was hard for them to stop their anxiety level in initial class sessions. Most of the students told that they were unable to give an introduction in first class due to stress. Those not having English academic style and language in their native countries felt more stress, such as students from Japan, Korea, China and Italy.
What do you think how much time did overseas students take to adjust at new place?
Ten out of ten students agreed to the fact that they find it difficult to adjust; however, none of them was sure what exactly the time to adjust in new culture was. Some believed it all depends upon their own ability to absorb the unique norms of the culture, however, other believed it be a communication barrier, and as soon as the communication is improved the adjustment problem becomes less.
Did you take any steps or measures to adjust yourself according to new environment?
In answer to this question, the reply was unique from Chinese student, as she told different ways such as joining language and culture class to understand the country and its people. Other came up with same ideas and some told that these courses offered by the university were expensive.
Which issues do you think are difficult to handle, i.e. Religion, Human Rights, Gender roles, Race?
In answer to this question, no such issues as race, gender, human rights and religion were found rather the preference to native students were felt by all of the students.
How is your relationship with your supervisor in terms of communication and academic guidance?
In answer to this question, students from Italy, China and Japan found it very difficult to communicate and build a friendly relationship with supervisors. This was due to the fact that it was their first experience of studying abroad and the language was the greatest hurdle for them. Although, they all agreed that some teachers try to help them in making good sense of whatever they say.
Do you feel that your supervisor understands your problems?
This question was asked to understand the support issue from supervisor and university side, provided to the international students. Students were satisfied about the university efforts, as the University had its own international student’s supervisory council; however, they were not satisfied with the commitment of professors. Most of the students said they felt that the professors were busy and students are bugging them, despite the fact it was professors responsibility to satisfy each and every students query regarding the course.
How is your communication with your room mates or class mates?
This was the question which every student agreed was the biggest problem at initial stage, however, with the passage of time the communication became better. The Chinese, Korean and Japanese said they made their roommates understand what they wanted to say.
Do you have to do part time job for getting education? Did you face difficulties in getting job?
Many students were well off to pay their university dues as well as hostel charges, however, students from Malaysia and Indonesia had to work extra to survive in foreign country.
Is it easy to understand the culture of another country and adjust accordingly?
The adjustment was the main issue felt by all foreign students. In answer to this question, they said it now is easy to live after spending a year in foreign country; however, sometimes due to home sickness it becomes hard to survive. It was noticed that adjusting in a new culture was problematic for all of the students. However, who had past experience or had ever spent time in other cultures found it easy to adjust as compared to the ones who had no prior experience.