International students bring unique backgrounds, perspectives and belief systems to higher education campuses around the world. Their presence enriches learning experiences for all.

Social Isolation

Students living on campus can feel emotionally isolated. Their visa status limits access to loans and employment opportunities.

1. Lifelong Friends

Friendships are essential components of studying abroad. Without them, students may develop sociological, psychological, emotional or even physical issues which compromise the overall experience.

Making lifelong friendships doesn’t come easily, and those that stand the test of time require regular check-ins (via phone call or text message), plus longer hangouts such as dinner dates or movie nights. Long-term friends often help one another through life transitions such as job loss, breakups or the passing of loved ones.

Recent research published in the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication has demonstrated that international student friendships with Americans vary depending on both their host region and the student’s country of origin.

2. Explore the World

International students, or noncitizens studying abroad for postsecondary education, represent over 6.3 million non-citizens (UIS 2022).

Studying abroad can take you anywhere from the icy rivers of Siberia to the dusty huts of African tribes, offering you an insight into different cultures and time periods through reading historical novels or visiting museums or cultural centers.

CUNY is proud to host an impressive population of international students from more than 100 nations. We provide support services for these students as they adjust to new academic and cultural practices in an inclusive environment, helping them become globally competent leaders of tomorrow. CUNY’s Open Doors website features data tables on international student mobility over the past decade.

3. Take a Risk

As they head abroad to study, students take on a considerable risk. They could become exposed to natural disasters, political unrest or mass shootings; so it’s wise to ensure they have enough student insurance in place to cover medical and travel costs should something arise that requires them to return home unexpectedly.

They must adapt to new social customs, language(s), food and time perspectives – an experience which may prove both emotionally and physically taxing. They may experience culture shock which will be both emotionally and physically trying.

International students may feel reluctant to seek clarification for written assignments for fear that their lack of comprehension will be perceived negatively by peers or professors, leading them to isolate themselves on campus and becoming depressed and isolated; engaging with student-run groups is one way of relieving this stress.

4. Learn a New Language

Language learning is an integral component of studying abroad. Many students want to pick up a new tongue so as to make travel simpler or engage more fully with locals in their host country.

Mastersing a new language may not be simple, but there are ways to make the experience more engaging and fun. One effective approach is making the language relevant to your interests; if music is your thing, try learning some lyrics for some of your favorite tunes as a start!

Additionally, volunteering with immigrants in your city and visiting businesses where people speak your target language are excellent ways to start practicing the language you’d like to learn. With enough practice, eventually you will be able to communicate easily while understanding others.

5. Grow as a Person

International students enrich campuses with diverse cultures, providing new perspectives on issues. This helps international students become better problem solvers – something highly prized in the workplace.

Additionally, they teach local students about their home countries and customs. Students learn to live independently by cooking for themselves and taking care of themselves – skills which will come in handy after graduation.

They stimulate America’s economy and increase globalization, with research showing how exchange students encourage American students to appreciate art and literature, learn a foreign language, travel more often, examine current events in historical context and reexamine political beliefs while challenging biases against different groups. They also benefit their host communities by creating jobs and purchasing local products – stimulating the economy while building friendships across cultures.

By Rob