The Struggles Of Being An International Student

Every year thousands of international students from across the world venture to the US to receive a world-class education, compete in their sport on an athletic scholarship, and to conduct research with access to cutting edge technology. But this impressive opportunity doesn't come without its challenges.

29th December 2020
The Struggles Of Being An International Student
Written by Lydia Hewitt

Every year thousands of international students from across the world venture to the US to receive a world-class education, compete in their sport on an athletic scholarship, and to conduct research with access to cutting edge technology. But this impressive opportunity doesn’t come without its challenges.


Life in the USA

The main attraction of going to university in the States for me was the option of being able to take classes across different subjects and tailor my undergraduate degree to my diverse academic interests. But even with the wealth of opportunities, being an international student comes with sacrifices.

Leaving friends, family, and hometown comforts is no easy endeavour. But it’s an unmatched opportunity for growth. Coming from England to the US was a difficult battle between my excitement to get away from the ‘everyday is a rainy day’ climate in the UK and my love affair with Heinz beans on Hovis toast.

Culture Shock

Living in a new country means quickly adapting to a new culture, adjusting to an entirely new education system. For example, learning that a ‘bin’ is a storage box and not what you throw your empty crisps packet into. Chips packet, rather.

For those who don’t speak English natively, there’s the struggle of not only speaking English proficiently all of the time but also reading and writing at a high level in a foreign language. For me, there are the numerous encounters filled with blank stares and long pauses as the cogs of professors’ and coffee shop baristas’ brains work in overdrive to understand my regional, northern accent that doesn’t quite sound like the Queen of England or the voices from Downton Abbey.

International struggles

International students also have time zones to adjust to, beginning classes on the first day when our bodies think it’s the middle of the night still. We call our family at home when they’re already asleep. We have a new and intense political climate to become accustomed to. And we have a different currency to convert every price tag from when we’re grocery shopping in Kroger. We have social changes to deal with, for example, remembering to always tip a good amount in restaurants and to end every interaction with ‘have a good day’, at least here in the midwest.

We have international bank accounts to set up and international sim cards to switch to every time we arrive in the US. For most of us, we leave our countries where we can legally buy and consume alcohol, and arrive in the US feeling like we’ve gone back to being 17 again.

Working As An International Student

International students have visa restrictions and constant paperwork to keep track of. On top of that, there are social security numbers to apply for and taxes to file. We also have to budget for international flights to come for Christmas. And all while being limited by the hours and places we can legally work during a semester. We become best friends with our schools’ international offices. This is a result of searching nonstop for companies who might sponsor us to work in the country after graduation. All of which causes anxiety, produces many tears, and induces unnecessary frustration in all of us—from freshmen to seniors.

How We Can Help

Phavour is a digital platform that makes finding a job much easier for students. We match students to suitable job roles for them using the Phavour algorithm. The Phavour platform removes the hassle of paperwork and the stress of needing to ask previous employers for references. This gives students more time to focus on their studies.

If you want to find out how Phavour can help you, or have any questions, head over to our contact page to get in touch with us. We would love to hear from you!