The Chronicle reports that more than every third foreign student in the US wishes they had more American friends. That’s quite an appalling statistic, as international student body in the US is the biggest in the world. Something has to be done about that, school officials say.
This brings us to a question. Could it be that it’s something about international students that keeps them from interacting with Americans in a meaningful way that’s also long-term?
Yes, in fact, it is not that foreign students don’t realize how important intercultural communication is. Instead, it is that they are struggling to maintain a certain level of communication within an alien environment. They are finding integration into a foreign society difficult, and a number of common pitfalls and mistakes only add to this.
Your Time Is Limited
If you don’t make good friends in school, you are not getting the most of your education. The older you get, the harder it is to peer with fellow co-workers or students. That’s how humans function, and nothing can be done about that.
School years is the best time to find your social fit and people who will complement your personality. If you think that you would be better off concentrating on study and that you would be able to make friends during later years or even after graduation, you’re already a loser. Why? Because every modern educational systems around the world emphasizes networking and work in groups.
Common Mistakes And Solutions
Living on campus can be a drag. However, it is also about having company and being in close proximity to people, who you love hanging out with. It is very important that you don’t only stick to fellow international students, but also make long-term friends with locals. Spend time with your roommates, floor mates, classmates, etc. Broaden the scope of your communication to interact with as many locals as possible. Even though you may not realize it now, but that’s what is going to make you stand out in the future.
Do not underestimate extracurricular activities. They are not only about doing some sport or participating in a club. They are also about getting together with people who share your interests and who would later fall into the same professional niche as you. Participate in clubs, where you can interact with American students, share experiences, knowledge, and just learn from them.
American language and culture. There is a big difference between academic and street language. Also consider the list of Common American Slang used on College Campuses. Your job is to master both. Without the latter, it is going to be very hard to settle and get a job. Nobody wants to hire a talking textbook. You would need to somehow integrate into the workplace too, and that’s why you need American friends – people who can help you assimilate and adopt the culture for the time being.
In reality, there are many-many issues that keep international students from becoming true locals for the time of their stay in the country. Some of these would be poor language skills, cultural differences, religion and customs, etc. If you tried, but you cannot overcome these differences, you do the following: network and assimilate.
Every business administration student is going to tell you that networking is the number one skill that every successful businessman should have. In a sense, we are all businessmen, and we all sell ourselves. That’s because you at least put on one piece of clothing for your interview. Isn’t that you trying to sell yourself?
In any case, networking has become a universal skill. You can see it on every resume, and that’s what employers are looking for in international students. They only want to employ those, who have the necessary communication skill and who are going to integrate into the workplace well.
The most popular theory of why international students struggle to find long-term American friends is that they are unable to assimilate. They are too hung up on preserving their tradition and speaking their mind, which may not always be the right way.
It may be better to just give up your opinions, clothing customs, etc., and just pretend you are a local in everything you do. After all, you come to the US to see the world and learn, and there is no faster way to learn than to fully commit yourself.
The United States is the number one destination for international students. Still, foreign students in the US find it difficult to organize their student life in a way that gets them local friends. What they don’t do is communicate all the time. Most international students narrow their communication to only interact with those alike. That’s wrong. They should participate in clubs, do sports and be open-minded instead. Only then will they be able to call themselves one part American.