As an international student there will be some barriers to academic and social success that are not experienced by American students. Common barriers to success experienced by international students are finances, loneliness, and academic challenges. You should be ready for this and must find ways to overcome these issues in order to grow and develop along your educational journey.
Barrier #1. Finances
Many international students experience financial difficulties. Finding a place to live that the student can afford may be difficult. Some students need scholarships, which can also be difficult to find. Being from another country some students may find they are only allowed to work on campus, which limits the available job opportunities. Since some employers provide insurance if students cannot work off campus they may be left without insurance and what is the odds someone goes to school two, four, or more years and never gets sick? Students often go without insurance and therefore cannot afford healthcare when they need it.
Currency exchange can be a problem especially if the student does not have good transportation to get off campus to get to a place that will do the currency exchange. Transportation can be a problem. Some students do not wish to buy a vehicle for the short time they will be away at college while others cannot afford a vehicle. A bicycle will likely serve the purpose of getting around campus but can present the problem of having to stay close to campus and may be uncomfortable in inclement weather or even hazardous.
Barrier #2. Loneliness
International students are far away from home and may miss family and friends terribly. Some students will have the ability to communicate via skype or other computer methods with family and friends while others may not have family or friends back home who have computer access. Communication with family and friends may be minimal.
Communication with other students is often sometimes lacking and can make students feel isolated or uncomfortable talking to others. This makes it difficult to get new friends. International students are also often uncomfortable with the stereotyping they receive on campus from their peers.
If students are fortunate enough to fit in with other groups they may struggle to hold fast to their own culture. With more influence from others than their family and friends back home the student can begin to change, which can present problems once they try to return home. Studying abroad as an international student can bring about changes in the student that may not be accepted upon their return home.
Barrier #3. Academics
As if it is not enough that the student may struggle financially and socially they may also struggle academically. The overall holistic of the course and classroom can differ greatly from what they have previously experienced in their home country. Teaching styles of the professor and classroom etiquette can present a challenge for the international student.
Just as communication can be an issue for international students outside of the classroom so can it be in the classroom as well. Class discussions and writing can present difficult challenges for students. Even if the student has mastered the language well enough to interact socially writing can present many problems because it is structured differently than writing in their native language.
Not quite an optimistic picture, is it? But forewarned is forearmed.