10 Common Challenges International Students Face

10 Common Challenges International Students Face

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When you’re a student pursuing your degree abroad, there are a number of challenges that you may face. You might not know the local language. Or maybe you don’t have a social circle yet. It can be difficult to make friends, and it can take a while to develop those skills.

However, these challenges can be overcome if you work through them one at a time. Here are ten common challenges international students face and how they can overcome them:

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Life as an international student can be quite different to what you’re used to. It’s important to know what you’ll be up against, so you can plan ahead and tackle these challenges with ease. Most people don’t realize there are actually 10 common challenges international students’ face. Here are some of the challenges they may come across when they go overseas for school.

  • Fear of not fitting in
  • Difficulty with language barriers
  • Homesickness
  • Financial concerns
  • Loneliness and homesickness
  • Challenges integrating into the culture
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Challenges are an inevitable part of life. We all face them, and they make us stronger. If you’re an international student, you’ll be faced with some challenges that are unique to your situation. The most common of these are the following 10:

  1. Finding a place to live
  2. Making friends outside of your class
  3. Developing fluency in English or another language
  4. Figuring out how to pay for school
  5. Getting comfortable with the culture
  6. Learning how to manage money on a tight budget
  7. Staying healthy without access to your country’s health care system
  8. Managing time efficiently so you can balance schoolwork
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Language and culture shock

Understanding the local language is the first step to bridging this divide. Learning how to speak and listen in a language that is not yours is a challenge. You will, at some point, find yourself saying the same words over and over again. Learning to communicate in a foreign language is essential to starting a new life.

Once you have learned the basics, it is time to tackle the hardest part: adapting to the culture. As a student, you will be travelling in a new country with a number of new and unfamiliar people. This is a difficult time to start a new life, but it is important to remain calm and remember to stay true to yourself.

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Start by developing an active social life. Follow local traditions. If you’re a vegetarian, join in with your hosts’ culture.

Being in a new environment

Most international students will face a number of challenges when they are first moving to a new country. Often, these challenges will be the same for all students, but they might be in different ways. It might be hard to find the classes you need. It might be hard to be away from family and friends for the first time.

However, there are some common issues that are specific to international students. For example, you may not have a social circle yet, so it can be difficult to find a group to go to the pub with. In some countries, people work long hours, so finding a life-long partner can be difficult.

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Adopting a new way of life

International students often have different eating habits and ways of doing things than their host country, so you’ll have to get used to new cultures.

Meeting people in your community

Going to clubs and meeting new people can be a real challenge. For many people, it’s the first time they’ve ever done something like that. If you feel isolated, you may have a hard time adjusting to the new culture and society. Start by trying a new hobby – like playing music, dancing, or working out. These hobbies can bring you some more friends, and they’re a lot of fun!

If you don’t like clubs, you can always try activities like a religious mass or a hairdresser’s workshop. These types of events allow you to make new friends in your community. However, avoid them if you’re not very interested.

Sleeping late

There’s no escaping the fact that sleeping late is a common issue for many students. Although sleeping late isn’t ideal, it’s not the end of the world.

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Improving your language skills

Being able to speak and understand the local language is the most obvious challenge that you’ll face as an international student, but it’s one that should not be underestimated. As well as being an obvious obstacle, it can be just as challenging to develop your language skills to meet the challenge of adapting to a different culture.

But there are many ways to improve your language skills. Firstly, find a tutor or someone to support you. You can find an appropriate language partner online or in your city.

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Other ways to improve your language skills include learning about the local culture and learning to understand culture. You can even speak with others who have studied the language and tried to become fluent.

Adjusting to your new academic life

You’re on a completely different schedule. You have to find your way around in a new country. Your study area might be far from where you live, so finding transportation can be a challenge. Most international students experience at least one of these challenges in their first year, so don’t stress. Try to make new friends as you will quickly learn how to get around in your new environment.

Building the skills you need

The school you’re going to is probably not the high school you’re used to. You have to adapt to this new curriculum. That means you will need to acquire new skills to graduate with the same high school grades as you would at home. Don’t worry, you can build these skills, so don’t get discouraged.

Figuring out the local customs

As an international student, you’re not from the country you’re studying in. That means you’re not accustomed to the norms of the country. If you don’t take the time to educate yourself on the country and its customs, you could encounter some awkward moments.

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Whether it’s dressing too immodestly, offering your seat to anyone but the person sitting next to you or leaving your door open when you’re returning home at night, there are a number of examples of where this could come in handy.

Understanding the differences between the education system

Foreigners might be surprised to learn that the educational system in many countries differs significantly from that of their home country. For example, a very large number of students study a year ahead of their university application date.

Balancing your social life and academics

It can be difficult to strike the right balance between your social life and academic life. If you’re trying to balance a social life and academics, try following a study timetable or using one of the many apps that can help you keep track of your class times. You can then plan ahead and make time for your friends.

It’s a lot easier to balance everything if you can incorporate classes into your study time. This way, you’ll get the most out of your degree and will enjoy the most time with your friends and family. It’s never too late to take a course for a single subject, so you can learn a new skill, while also getting your degree!

If you’re worried about the cost of living in an expensive city like Prague, Airbnb can help you find a cheap place to stay.

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Communicating with family back home

One of the most common hurdles international students face is communicating with their family back home. With most people living in different parts of the world, you’re often worried that you’ll get into trouble for breaking the rules. Unfortunately, this can happen. Plus, you may not even be able to find someone to help you translate.

Some ways to overcome this is to use Skype, messaging apps, or mobile messenger services to reach out to your family and communicate in your native language. Make sure to review the rules beforehand on how to use such services before you start communicating with family back home.

Finding a place to live

Finding a place to live is one of the hardest challenges you’ll face as an international student.

Connecting with campus groups and activities

You might find yourself not knowing where to start when it comes to joining organizations and groups. Maybe you haven’t yet gained enough French or Spanish to be able to join a student organization.

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If this is you, you should start by exploring what is available through the International Student Center. They can connect you with resources, and they also support you during orientation. You can also find your local version of the International Student Center through your university.

Finding your university’s International Student Association (ISA)

Some international students take an extended amount of time to settle into their new environment, which means that they may not have done so yet. This is where a group such as the ISA can be invaluable.

Campus clubs and organizations

Some people find it difficult to make new friends because of campus clubs and organizations. There can be a range of members who speak different languages, have different religions, and are not of the same cultural background.

Although campus clubs and organizations are an opportunity to meet people and make friends, they also have negative connotations. Some of them are super competitive, and others are super elitist. For those reasons, you might feel intimidated joining, and decide to stay away.

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But, if you research the campus organization you are interested in joining, and find that it is well known for supporting inclusivity and acceptance, then you can join and be more open to trying new things.

Other clubs are more social.


The study abroad experience is undoubtedly challenging. However, with some planning, patience, and a team, you can overcome these challenges and make this experience a fulfilling one.

Learning English is just one of the many things you can achieve during your study abroad program. If you have an idea for a post or have another travel related article you would like to share, please do!

What country should I study abroad in? What course should I take? Have you already been abroad?

What’s your favorite memory from your study abroad experience? Do you think it was worth the effort?

Disclaimer: This article contains some useful information for those looking to study abroad.

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