The urge to acquire better and affordable education has led many to travel around the world in search for better education. Many students have left their mother countries and traveled to foreign countries where education is considered of higher quality than their countries'. This has created a situation whereby people from different occupations come together and try to be integrated into a cultural environment that they are not used to. Armed with their willingness to acquire education, foreign students find themselves in a situation that conflicts with the environments they were used to and that demand many personal and behavioral changes among themselves. Although it is inevitable, cultural shocks and language barriers have been the major problem that foreign students face. This has led to people trying to adjust to the new environment and this has been found to affect foreign students in the first few days in their new environment.
Cultural shock can be defined as a state of personal disorientation people feel when they experience different and unfamiliar ways of life. This may be due to immigration or a mere visit to a new region, country, or even socialization with people of different cultural backgrounds. As foreign students, one is exposed to and is supposed to integrate with people who have been socialized differently, who have different cultural beliefs, and who are from different religions. The process of adaptation to the new environment can be tough for students.
Cultural shock can be brought about by climate, language, social roles among others. As a foreigner, changes in even what we eat can have many effects on our social and academic lives. To make sure that the effect of cultural shock does not affect foreign students' academic life for the rest of their education, there is need to come up with better strategies that are aimed at reducing the effect and the process of adjustment. Universities and other institutions of higher learning that accept international students should come up with departments that can start integration process even before the students are absorbed into the student population. With the expansion in use of social media, students can come up with platforms that are aimed at encouraging the foreign student to start communicating with the aim of learning the way of life of the people in the area they are to go. By the time they get into the learning institutions, they will have the better understanding of what to expect and this can greatly reduce the widow of time which students take to adjust.
Another problem that foreign students face includes language barrier. In many cases, students have to travel even to countries that speak different languages from theirs. This can be hard for the students to adjust in the short time that they are allowed. Even when students are from countries that speak the same language, pronunciations, and sentence structures may differ. Differences in English speaking nations have been there with American English and Queen's English differing. This has affected many foreign students who are forced to adjust or even take up language courses so that they are able to communicate and integrate in the larger learning institution system.
To make sure that students' linguistic problems are reduced, both the learning institutions' management and students have a role to play. Prior arrangements can help students in reducing the effect of language barrier greatly by encouraging them to start taking up linguistic classes earlier enough so that when the time to get into the institution comes, they will be able to adjust with much ease than when they have not undertaken any language courses. Institutions who are accepting international students should also develop platforms that will help ease the adjustment effort of their students. Efforts such as communication courses that are tailored for the students can by far help them in making sure that the rate at which they adjust is a bit faster. These programs can be designed in a way that indigenous students' population helps in the integration process of these students.
In other cases, there are differences in the curriculum of the host country with that of the mother country. This can be difficult for most people as trying to adjust can be costly in terms of time. Although this is not an individual problem, there is the need for prior preparation in such a way that students are able to start familiarizing themselves with the new syllabus and education system. Other problems that are faced by foreign students include the change of social roles. Although it can be classified under cultural shock, there is need to point it out individually as it affects the overall integration process. Social roles and behaviors of the people one finds in the new environment can be a barrier to faster and effective integration. Although the institutions cannot change the whole system, there is the need for students to make sure that they help the foreign students in adapting to the new systems.
There are solutions that can be employed to reduce the effects of the cultural shock and change in education system, among other problems that student faces. Among them is the students' ability to keep in touch with their home countries. Although one is supposed to adapt to the new environment, this does not necessarily mean that he or she has to change their behaviors, their values and even their beliefs. Keeping in touch with family members can by far help in making sure that one is reminded of his roles, being and their beliefs. In addition, making friends with the students can also help in making sure that foreign students can easily integrate to the system and community at large. In the most institution of higher learning, there are groups of foreign students that are recognized by the institution management. The groups are composed of both foreign and national students and other staff. The main aim of these groups is to help international students in the process of adjusting to the new environment. Joining such groups can be beneficial to foreign students.
Participation in co-curriculum activities has been found to also help students in the integration process. During sports and other programs, foreign students are able to mingle with others from different backgrounds. These processes expose them to different perspectives and point of views that can help them in coping with changes in the environment. Although this process may help the students, one must be objective and open to other peoples' perspectives and views. The solutions that have been proposed in this paper are better placed in solving the solution of both culture shock and those of language barrier. It offers additional benefits such as the better platform for networking and integration when other students are included in the plan
Many problems that are faced by the foreign student are inevitable. Changes in environment, social behaviors, norms, and even the food we eat can have intriguing effects in our day-to-day life. Foreign students can be integrated and helped to cope and adjust to their new environment without going through many struggles. If the issues are shared between the relevant bodies and the students guided to make the right adjustment decisions, most of the problems that they face can be minimized if not eliminated. By coming up with better integration programs, their lives in new environments can be made easier and the process of acquiring better education fun.