60+ Opinions From American Students About Their International Classmates

So you want to know what American students really think of international students?  You’re in luck! We did a survey to answer just that question, asking over 50 Americans to answer anonymously with their honest opinion of their international classmates.  If you haven’t read our analyses of the survey results, take a look at these articles first:

Part 1: The Truth – Americans Reveal What They Really Think of International Students

Part 2: Why Aren’t Americans and International Students Becoming Friends?

But if you’ve already read those and are still dying to know more, this post is for you.

The Americans who took our survey wrote long form answers to two questions: (1) Why do you think you do or do not relate to international students; (2) Why do you or do you not try to get to know international students? Here, in their unedited entirety (with names removed for privacy), is every single comment we received.

Why do you think you do or do not relate to international students?

Do relate
(60% of Americans responded they relate to international students as well as or better than they relate to other Americans)

I think I relate to international students mainly because of our environment. We are all here to learn, have fun, and make new friends. We have some of the same views because they know quite a lot about America (which only makes me feel extremely ignorant considering how I do not know much about their countries other than what they tell me themselves.). This being said, I think our constant thirst for knowledge is another thing that brings us all together, along with our curiosity to hear each other’s experiences.

I relate to them just as well as I relate to students from America. I just depends on what kind of person they are.

I think I relate to international students because I took a gap year before starting college and lived outside of the U.S. for eleven months.

We come from different cultures, so I usually like to ask international students about their culture. After such a conversation I have a more educated insight into their perspective.

I love learning about different cultures and I have traveled before. More so though, the international students that I know and have become friends with are very knowledgeable about world issues and current events. They know more about what is going on in the U.S. than some American students I know, and it is really interesting discussing global affairs with them.

Many of the international students I have befriended have become my friends because we end up bonding on plenty of ‘normal’ human experiences seen through different cultural lenses.

I lived abroad for a time in an international boarding school, so I feel that this changed the way I interact with people in general, and because I was integrated in a different culture from a young age, I can relate better to that culture.

International Students are more down to earth than american students. I have never been able to connect particularly well to American Students even Americans in general even though I was born here. Most of my classmates are from different countries but they live in the US. I connect to them better and their ideas and values. International Students tend to focus on school work and wanting to achieve their goal. American students do this too some what, but I do not feel like they are as genuine or appreciative.

I am an american-born child of immigrant parents, so I can identify in a lot of ways with international students in america with cultural differences and clashes, etc. People actually often just assume I am international too, which is interesting.

I think that they are pretty much the same as everyone else… I mean there are some cultural differences; but for the ones who go here its not very apparent most times.

It varies from student to student. Some international students come from cultures that are very different from the U.S., which can make relating more difficult. However, whether you can relate to an international student has more to do with their individual personality, hobbies and likes, and–to a certain extent–their knowledge of American culture and the English language.

Because I grew up abroad.

I’ve studied abroad to another country, so I can understand how they are feeling. But I also just enjoy hearing their perspectives and what it is like for them in the US. I am not afraid to talk with them and try to make them feel included.

I think I can identify with international students somewhat since I’ve moved around a lot and know what it feels like to be new or feel strange in a new place.

They are more open to understanding and getting to know people. And their complete niceness and attitude makes them great trustworthy friends.

I love learning about other cultures and have traveled more than many of my peers

Technically, I use to be an international student. I only just recently received my green card despite having lived in the US for 15 years…I have also studied in a country other than my home country, both in high school and college; I therefore feel that I can share some of their experiences.

People are people, no matter what. I can relate to anyone because they have feelings like I do – not necessarily about the same things – but they have them just the same.

Mostly, I believe that just the act of being on a college campus brings us together. We share similar worries, challenges and joys. Otherwise, I grew up in an international household.

I have generally experienced stronger shared interest in the same disciplines such as political science, international affairs, economics, etc. with international students opposed to fellow Americans. I love to travel and understand history and explore other cultures, and I feel I identify more with people from other countries.

I think that we all have things in common, and I am super interested in their culture and finding out what we have in common and what is different.

Even though we come from different parts of the world and different cultures, we share the same basic humanity. They laugh and cry with me, they socialize and eat with me. They are some of the best friends I could ask for. We just get each other

If English is either their native language, or a language they’ve learned for so long that they’re totally fluent in it, then it is easy to relate to them.

Don’t relate
(40% of Americans responded they relate to international students worse than they relate to other Americans, or not at all)

differing cultures and ideas of relaxing and work ethic

Different cultural background and life experiences.

The fact that we grew up in different cultures might make it difficult to find any sort of relations. Despite the fact that I was originally from Latin America, I grew up in the States, and because of personal experiences during my upbringing, I was not initially able to speak the language of my country (Mexico/Spanish), which, I felt, made it difficult to connect to International students from Latin America. Also, I am a natural introvert, which may have made communication between myself and other international students even more difficult.

They don’t speak english and only hang out with other international students.

I think that I get nervous to say something wrong or get nervous that if they have a thick accent that I will offend someone by asking them to repeat what they said more than once.

I sometimes do not share the same values or norms as international students do, nor the same culture. It is sometimes hard to bridge over these differences if both parties are not committed to engaging in dialogue.

International students, and where I attend college this mostly applies to Asian students, seem to self-segregate.

At my school, international students stick together. There’s always a group of two or more in my classes and they rarely try to talk to us, so we sort of just leave them alone. It’s like they don’t want to make friends with us.

It feels like there is a slight cultural disconnect, and it can be hard to communicate well.

Why do you or do you not try to get to know international students?

Do try
(80% of Americans responded that they make an effort to get to know international students or that they don’t feel it requires special effort)

I value diversity and I feel that learning about how multiple people view several issues and events is extremely interesting. I like to get people from different walks of life together to see how they view things. What more different walk of life could I get than with an international student?

I like to learn about who people are and what their different stories are. Almost always I learn something new about not only their personal life but how their life at home contrasts with their life in America.

I try to get to know the international students so I can learn more about where they are from, and to try and make them feel welcome in America.

I think the international students on my campus are really interesting and wonderful people and a lot of times I feel that they are more grounded and well-rounded than American students.

I think that meeting anyone has the potential for both people to grow and learn.

Because they are generally more interesting than American students. They are where they are because of their determination, unlike a good amount of American students.

I actually do not realize a lot of times they are international, but I like to know people’s heritages and where they come from. I also think its cool if they can speak multiple languages.

For me, I think it’s important for people from various backgrounds and cultures to get to know one another and to share experiences and such. I also feel welcomed and loved by my international friends in ways that I cannot say so about my american friends.

I try to get to know everyone! lol

I’ve always had a very big interest in the countries and cultures, hence why I try to get to know as many international citizens/students from around the world: To learn about their culture, their language, and their experiences growing up in a different country, and how they are doing being an International Student in the United States, and to tell them of my own experiences of my journeys being born in one country, but raised in another.

I make an effort to get to know them because I think all of their international backgrounds and cultures are so fascinating and I would be truly blessed to get to experience a small sense of their life through what they tell me.

It’s great hearing what they have to say, and I think they bring an interesting dynamic to my group work. I like hearing their stories, and I want them to feel included.

I’m interested in learning about other cultures and like everyone to be included.

I find that I am fascinated with their culture and/or language (if it’s different than mine). I’m also curious about anyone whose experiences contrast sharply with my own (although I often find that such contrasts are superficial).

I get to know them because I can only imagine what they are going through. Coming to a new place and not knowing anyone pretty much is hard. Especially if English is your second language. They need someone to be that person to step up and help.

They need to know they are welcome here.

In general, I enjoy getting to know people with interesting life experiences; international students often fall into that category.

I get to know people who are around me, regardless of whether they are national or international.

I enjoy learning about other cultures and experiences.

To be surrounded by like-minded individuals who share my interests

I think that it is healthy and interesting to get to know people from other countries. They have such different life experiences!

I am always interested in learning, and appreciating others, and friends from different cultures add so much to that. It is one thing to read about other cultures and countries, to know their history and their perceptions. It is another to interact with members of that culture, and to learn how they see the world.

I’d say that int’l students are fairly well-integrated at my school, and it takes no real effort to run into them.

Don’t try
(20% of Americans responded that they do not make an effort to get to know international students)

Getting to know international students is not any different from trying to get to know American students to me. I do not put any more or less effort into it based on the fact that they’re international. However, getting to know international students can be difficult–while international students are in the same classes as American students, the international students have a tendency to group together. As someone who has studied abroad, I understand this tendency, but it can still make breaking into their group of friends slightly daunting.

They smell bad and don’t speak english.

If they would prefer to socialize amongst themselves, that’s fine. Whatever makes them comfortable. That is to say, there’s no “tension” that results from the tendency of international students at our school to socialize primarily with other international (Asian) students.

In the past, I’d try to talk to them, but they never seemed interested in what I was saying.

They usually tend to keep to their own group or with the other international students.

I’m too busy to go out of my way to try and make friends with people of specific demographics. I’m friends with whomever comes across my path.

I don’t have a lot of classes with them.

4 comments

  1. Students in general do not bother to know about other students, because they are very busy with their education and they have their close friends. However, the percentage of national to international students is high and the countries are different, therefore every group is busy with their national friends who share common culture values. But there are students from both sides who can cross the culture borders to other cultures to explore and to create relations. Some of these relations are very unique, and the outcome is beyond imagination. Two wonderful examples are the mothers and fathers of president Obama, and Mr. Steve jobs. I am sure there are so many examples of such strong relation and appreciation among students from both sides.
    I was studying in different states. I am sure international students like Americans in general and respect them for many reasons. Americans are friendly, and they would like to know others sometimes. They may have wrong information about some international student cultures. Even among them, the Americans relations are not open to everyone. This is human nature, because they are busy with their lives, and daily work. Bu they got along a lot with others so easy. I remember one of my classmates when I was leaving to my country she came to say goodbye and brought with her the family photo and wrote on it this is your family in America. I call her sister because we are all brothers and sisters. At the top of all this Americans are not American government politics, while international students are not their national governments. This is what people try to distinguish when communicate with others.
    ali

  2. Racism, superiority, religion, and political atmosphere. If we still call our president a Kenyan do you think we want to know some internationals? Hell, no.

    1. Exactly! Even as an ABC there are still stereotypes like when an aquintence of mine was surprised how fluent my English is. Well duh! I was born an here in the U.S., no sincei looked Asian they assumed i was not American.

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