An increasing number of Nepalese students are opting to study abroad. They pack their bags and hoping for a better future make their journey to an unknown land seeking knowledge. According to a report published by Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange data released by IIE and the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the number of Nepalese students studying in the United States increased by 14.3 percent in 2018. Little do these students realize the importance and the impact of being culturally different in a foreign land. Nepalese students are nothing more than a speck in a vast spectrum of ethnic, racial and culturally diversity in the nation known as the United States of America. Yet students from all over the world flock to this land for better education and a better life.
Having lived and studied in the US for over 10 years, I personally have felt culturally different even though I was among a few students who had the opportunity to meet people from various backgrounds since I was a child. The United States of America is a completely different ball-park. International students need to realize that regardless of how diverse the United States is, it does not take prisoners. It is ruthless and will challenge you every step of the way. First and foremost students experience what is known as “Culture Shock.” The notion of feeling disoriented by a completely new environment as opposed to what they have been subjected to since childhood. Yes, there are ways by which you can cope with these shocks, but the impact it has will last while you are there in the US.
Racial discrimination is one of the greatest threats international students have to face. Primarily a white country, the difference in the skin tone will make students feel lesser than their white counterparts. Students are in a foreign land, with a foreign language among a foreign culture. They are bound to feel like an outcast. International students will have to cope and learn a different etiquette and more importantly the culture itself to feel like they belong. Feeling out of place will be normal. People are direct, as opposed to our culture. Students might feel intimidated by their own capabilities. In a sense, even speaking English will be different. No matter how fluent and well-spoken one is, speaking and feeling inferior among Americans may be a possibility.
Experiencing culture shock and having to speak good English may feel intimidating but students will also be impacted by the lifestyle as well. The United States is considered to be a fast paced, individualistic country where citizens only care about themselves and not others. For students, for example those who come from Japan or Korea where people follow a more collectivistic lifestyle, finding and assimilating into such an environment will be difficult and frustrating. Living in such a situation will be difficult for any student and following the lifestyle even more.
The impact of being culturally different among international students will have a toll on students’ physical and mental performance but they will need to overcome those fears and challenges. Feeling culture shock can be used as a means to grow as a human being, feeling inferior by your own capabilities can be used to propel yourself and build your confidence and living and adapting to a different lifestyle may lead them to be more open minded. International students need to understand what they signed up for when pursing knowledge in a culturally different land, so why not learn a few more things rather than whine over such petty problems. These challenges are not to discourage Nepalese students wanting a higher education in the land of opportunity but rather prepare to prepare them for the possible setbacks they may face.