We pride ourselves on being the best at sharing the quirks of the international student experience, but sometimes we have to admit that someone out there did it better (okay…there are plenty of people out there doing a good job. Check out our list of some of them).
Take a look at this insightful article by an international student at Notre Dame about some of the things that were unexpectedly difficult about coming to a U.S. college:
Everyone else seemed to know all the songs and childhood TV shows that were basics of a culture I had not grown up with.
The moment I opened my mouth, they knew that I was not American. I felt judged when I couldn’t act fluently in a quick and stressful social situation. The program designed to make most of the student body bond and identify with each other only accentuated my dissimilarities.
Classes were challenging as well. At Notre Dame, it’s so easy to lose the balance between one’s studies and life outside academia. When self-worth is defined by academic performance, one can easily be crushed when that one pillar becomes unstable. The pressure is exacerbated for the hyper-achieving international students, who came to a different country to attend an academic institution while lacking fluency in the language and culture.
The story has a happy ending though – all these challenges have been “a critically painful but rewarding process …”