The international student is a student who is willing to go to literally great lengths to achieve his goals. No matter how bold, fearless and daring he may be, isolation is often a common problem. It is a serious problem that can distract students from their studies and sometimes lead to feelings of depression. Beyond a simple feeling of homesickness, isolation occurs when fitting in and making close friends can be problematic. With language and cultural barriers, it is a very common problem for intenrational students. Since the international student has so diligently created a special study path for himself, he can also plan for a remedy of this isolation, too. International students and isolation do not have to go hand in hand.
Awareness and Prevention
It is good for an international student to know what to expect. Since one thing common for international students is isolation, he can prevent it upon arrival in his host country. A great way of preventing isolation is to let your teachers, peers and RA (resident advisor, who will help you adjust to college life, if you live on campus) know that, although you may not speak the language perfectly, you want to engage with them often and be their friend. Simple honesty will make others aware that you are ready and willing to be a friend; it will also help them to realize that what they may mistake for rudeness or a brush-off was simply a cultural misunderstanding.
Join clubs on campus. The more time you spend on campus–and the more engaged you are with your peers–the less isolated you will become.You may even consider starting a club for other international students, if none exists on campus. Reach out to other international students, whether they are from your home country or not. With two people speaking the language in a limited way–yet with no other language to share between you–you will improve your skills and share a common bond.
If Isolation Has Already Begun
If you are already feeling isolated as an international college student, you are not alone. Some students feel isolated for years. It does not have to be that way. Even though you may feel that you are already known on campus as shy or withdrawn, it is never too late to change that. Even if you do not speak the native language at all, take a class in it; talk to your professors. It is important that you don’t simply accept isolation as part of being an international student. It definitely does not have to be that way.
If you cannot help yourself, talk to a school counselor. The school staffs at least one counselor to help students deal with problems that may overwhelm them. As a student, you are entitled to the same rights as every other student, and isolation can be extremely overwhelming. Ask the school counselor to help you; she will refer you to someone else who can, if she cannot provide the help you need. Isolation can be a thing of the past.