People are sensible thinkers.

No one in their right mind would be willing to face problems unless they have a goal or an accomplishment in mind.

This is also true for international students.

A majority of students who study abroad face myriads of challenges.

International students leave their homes, families, and friends to venture into the world of the unknown. They have to struggle with a new people, culture, and environment for the entire period of their study. The newfound freedom is tempting, as one has to learn to be accountable for their own action with no one to guide them. All of this is overwhelming for the student.

Alienation is also common as the student will struggle for a while before he or she is able to build social networks. The process of tackling these challenges requires a predetermined goal or objective that one aims to accomplish (Hopkins, 2012).

The international student requires strong motivation that will enable one to face the challenges. Moreover, motivation is essential in providing the student with the driving force that will enable them to concentrate on their studies. This study explores the major reasons why student venture abroad to study. In addition, the study explores the challenges that students face in their study and tries to draw a correlation between them.


Globalization has changed every aspect of the human life. One of the groups affected is students. There are various reasons as to why students go study abroad. These reasons vary from the search of better education, scholarships, exchange programs or migration due to the conflict in their home country. These students have to adapt new skills to survive and thrive in this new environment. The international student faces problems ranging from the language barrier, cultural alienation, homesickness, and climate. Overcoming these challenges is important to the student, as they will aid in survival. Research shows there are one million students international students in the US alone (Xiaoyun, 2013). This shows that learning abroad has much benefit that makes students will face challenges just to study there.

The other reason is that in modern times, education is much competitive. Parent wants the best education for their children. This involves sending their children abroad to study. The demand for better has forced countries to improve their educational facilities. Recently, education systems are much critical that continents are joining to create educational facilities. European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the International Space Station and the United Nation Research Facilities in Geneva are some of the education institutions developed by multiple countries. The changing scope of the provision of education has also forced countries to specialize in specific fields of education. For example, the United States has specialized in technology, Israel in Military and France in art.

The need for families to maintain their stature in society has become an important contributor to sending their children to schools abroad.

Pride is an important component, especially for wealthy and powerful families (Wu, Garza and Guzman, 2017).

Travel is another reason why people find it appealing to study abroad.

Studying abroad provides one with an experience that is impossible to have if one is studying in the country.

Abroad countries give one the opportunity to meet a new people and learn a new culture. Major companies are quickly becoming multinationals. These companies are setting up their facilities in many countries. Since they require skilled labor, these companies favor employees with education experience from abroad. This is important to the company as it allows for employee mobility. The lack of curriculum flexibility in local institutions of higher learning has created a gap between education and the job market. Students leaving these institutions lack the necessary skills to gain employment. The solution to this is by studying abroad where there the education offered is relevant to the job market.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to identify the challenges that international students face while studying abroad. The study begins by developing a foundation on the reasons why a student will leave the comfort of their home country to venture abroad. There is a vast literature on the challenges that student face when studying abroad. In addition, scholars have done extensive research on the reasons to why students leave to study abroad. Although the existing literature on these subjects is useful to students planning to undertake their studies abroad, a gap exists. The studies have not drawn any correlation between the two subjects. This study aims at understanding how the reason the student leaves home to study abroad motivates them to face challenges and finish their study abroad.

Significance of the Research

This research is useful to students that are planning to study abroad or those already enrolled as an international student. The student can identify with the reasons that have been outlined for leaving their countries to study abroad. The research also outlines problems that the student may encounter in the course of their learning and how these problems might affect them. The student also will benefit from the knowledge that the problems that these problems exist and therefore not feel isolated. According to Xiaoyun (2013), understanding a problem enables one to come up with possible solutions. The research will enable students to understand challenges they are likely to face and therefore place them in an advantageous position. The student may then work on the possible solution. For instance, in the problem of the language barrier, the student can take foreign language classes before enrolling to study abroad. The research is also useful for tutors, as, through it, they can understand the problems that international students face hence be in a better position to help them. Tutors can also use the research to mentor and advise international students accordingly.

Reason why students study abroad

The society values and appreciates the good education. Education is a source of pride and stature. Education makes it easier for one to maneuver the structures of society. The right education enables one to interact with people of both high and low positions. These facts make education a very important commodity. Most families around the world try their best to ensure that they offer their children have access to the best education available. This sort of education means sending their children to prestigious schools in foreign countries (Tamas, 2017). This is common in wealthy families or families with powerful positions in society. In the modern society, a person gains value from the education that they possess. The society has also developed a trend whereby the most educated people or people educated at recognized institutions of higher learning have the best jobs (Jibreel, 2015). In addition, the number of people going abroad to study is on the rise. People view that studying abroad is fashionable and a trend has set. This has made people admire the idea of going abroad to study.


The appeal of studying in a foreign country is an enticing experience to a student. Studying abroad exposes one to the new environment. One meets a new people, interacts with their culture. Students who study abroad gain much exposure compared to students who study locally. Their social network increases as they are creating new friendship and social ties with the outside world (Omachinski, 2017). In many cases, students that study abroad due to cultural immersion with time learn the culture of their host country. They understand their mode of dressing, foods, mannerism, and behaviors. These students have enormous experience adapting to new environments and culture. This ability enables them to find it easier to adapt to the new cultural environment (Zerman, 2014). In addition, studying abroad provides one with the opportunity of learning a new language.


Education is an important aspect of a human life. The criteria for the skills needed in the job market are constantly on the rise. Globalization of companies has not helped but created more problems. Global companies base their employment requirements with their home country. They also require staff with up-to-date education to aid portability of employees. Students leaving local colleges in home countries find it hard to find jobs in these organizations. The reason is simple; the skills they have are out of date due to constant changes in the workplace (Zerman, 2014). Institutions of higher learning are finding it hard to constantly change their curriculum to suit the needs of the job market. In addition, tutors in these schools have enough on their plate as creating exams and grading them to find time to explore the needs of the job market. Therefore, a cycle emerges of a labor force in a country that has education and skills but cannot find jobs (Tamas, 2017). Employees on the other need employees with skills hence they look elsewhere mostly foreign countries. Students bridge this gap by enrolling to foreign universities.

Challenges that students face studying abroad


As the saying goes, money makes the world go round. As an international student lack of finances may literary, make you world stop. Lack of finances may mean forgoing several necessities. In extreme cases, a student will be unable to complete their studies (Xiaoyun, 2013). Most foreign countries provide work permits for to enable them to look for employment and aid their upkeep. Having a work permit does not necessarily guarantee employment. One has to spend the day if not months looking for employment depending on the unemployment statistics in the country (Alghamdi, 2016). The fact that you are not a resident of the country the odds of finding a good job are against you. Therefore, as an international student, it is important to budget and ensures that you have sufficient finances to sustain you within the period of study. One should avoid the notion of employees working in their favor as it leads to disappointments.

Cultural shock

Studying abroad involves taking a leap of faith that you will complete your studies in the country of enrollment no matter the consequences. One of the first problems that students face while abroad is the culture shock. Studying abroad means meeting with new people, ideologies, language, and behaviors. At times students find that they are alone in a cultural sense. The experience is challenging when you find that no one is willing to associate with you (Challenges of International Students and Strategies for Success, 2014). Different individuals have different ways of coping with cultural shock. Acting as if everything is fine is one of the solutions but it is not recommendable. The best way to handle the situation is to be patient, observant and learn the new culture as quickly as possible. This is essential as it will enable one adapt quickly. Tolerance is an important virtue to deal with the cultural shock. At times, you might find new culture offensive or a burden (Challenges of International Students and Strategies for Success, 2014). The longer you stay with the new society, the comfortable you will be with their culture. It is also important to acknowledge first that you are new to their society. By acknowledging you are new, people are more willing to accept your weaknesses and lack of understanding without taking offense. In addition, they are more willing to help in case you land into problems.


It is important to research beforehand on the country that you wish to partake your studies. One of the most important topics one should research on is the climate of the region. It can be very uncomfortable if you make a mistake of packing summer clothing to a cold country. Researching the weather will enable one not only plan the clothing to pack but also one is in a position to know any health concerns. Researchers agree that if one has the ability it is best to pack minimal clothing and instead buy clothing when you have arrived at your destination (Alghamdi, 2016). The advantage to this is that it gives one the ability to blend in. Clothing is an important aspect of people's culture. A Certain type of dressing can be offensive or certain countries like in the Middle East; there is a strict code of dressing. The other advantage of buying clothes at your destination is that you will pick clothes that make fashion sense. A person thinking that you are weird due to your wardrobe is an uncomfortable feeling especially when you are new to a society.


The best and the worst thing about homesickness is that no one is prone to it. Leaving your home country for a new one is not an easy thing. In most cases, homesickness begins when the excitement of being in a new place washes off (Omachinski, 2017). It is at this moment when the international student develops strong desires of returning home. The feeling of missing the company of loved ones is a painful experience. Homesickness at times causes anxiety leading to depression. The solution to this problem is creating new friends or keeping busy. This will distract you from feeling homesick. Finding someone to talk is important. You can find a friend to confide in that will ease your burden. There are support groups that bring people going through similar problems to share their experiences. One can make a point of joining one of these groups (Xiaoyun, 2013). Institutions of higher learning provide counseling facilities to students. It is advisable to make use of these services if the situation gets out of hand.

Language Barrier

This is the worst sort of problem that one as an international student may face. When applying to a foreign institution where the mode of communication is different, as a student, you must be ready to endure major challenges. One of those challenges is the feeling of alienation. Classwork may become tremendously difficult and you will be required to put extra effort to cover for the language barrier part. It is important to be bold. Try to communicate to fellow students even if it is one word mixed with, your language (Xiaoyun, 2013). The more you communicate the more you will be in a better position to know the language. Thanks to technology, today by simply downloading a language application, it can translate the language for you. There is also Google translate that does an effective job of translating text within a couple of clicks. You can make use of the inventions to aid in your learning and communication process. Learning a new language though it may take time, it is not a complex task. There are applications, audio, video, and books that one may find useful to aid in the learning of a new language.


It is common for international students to lose motivation due to the problems that they encounter. A new country is like a new adventure. The excitement to tour the country may be much appealing compared to boring books. As an international student, you may develop the notion that no one cares or you have no real friends in school (Wu, Garza and Guzman, 2017). The notion of spending hours with people who do not understand you and pay no interest to your problems may demotivate your education endeavors. This experience may be worse if there is a language barrier. The best way to cope with this is to motivate yourself. Find ways to keep yourself motivated. A good method is to be positive and block all negative feelings. Loved ones also act as a good motivator for an individual who is feeling low (Rosenberg, 2017). Call your loved ones from time to time and explain to them what you are going through.


Research Design

The purpose of the research is to find the challenges that international student face when enrolling to study abroad. The participants of the study will be international students who have already enrolled in an academic program for at least one semester. The decision to choose students who have enrolled in a program for at least one semester is based on the notion that these are students that have experience being in a foreign school and have encountered some challenges in the process. The research will also consider students who have cleared their academic programs to find their views if at all the challenges they encountered in the process of their learning was in any way beneficial.

The research will use both quantitative and qualitative methods to collect data. This process will be accomplished by developing online questionnaires that will be sent to the respondents. This method was chosen as it is cost-effective and provides the respondents with ample time to answer the questions and submit their answers at their convenience. The questionnaire will cater to both open and closed-ended questions. The questionnaire will also provide an option for the respondent to be contacted later for follow-up questions if the need arises.

Once the data is collected, counter checking if the data entered is accurate will be done first. This will be done through the telephone if the customer has allowed the option to be contacted later. The other verification is to ensure that none of the respondents has submitted the questionnaire twice. The data will then be organized in charts and tables to aid in visibility. A correlation test will be developed to determine if there exists a relationship between the reason the students leave home to face challenges and finish their study abroad.


Alghamdi, H. (2016). The Challenges and Benefits of Study Abroad. [ebook] Available at: [Accessed 12 Aug. 2017].

Challenges of International Students and Strategies for Success. (2014). [ebook] International Students Luncheon. Available at: [Accessed 12 Aug. 2017].

Hopkins, K. (2012). 6 Challenges for International Students in College. [online] usnews. Available at: [Accessed 12 Aug. 2017].

Jibreel, Z. (2015). Cultural Identity and the Challenges International. [ebook] Available at: [Accessed 12 Aug. 2017].


Rosenberg, E. (2017). Challenges for International Students in the United States. [online] HCCMIS. Available at: [Accessed 12 Aug. 2017].

Tamas, A. (2017). Advantages of study abroad from the students’ perspective. [ebook] Available at: [Accessed 12 Aug. 2017].

Wu, H., Garza, E. and Guzman, N. (2017). International Student’s Challenge and Adjustment to College. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Aug. 2017].

Xiaoyun, X. (2013). A Research Proposal: The Level of Economic Return of Study Abroad Impact on Career Development. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Aug. 2017].

Zerman, S. (2014). The Impact of Studying Abroad Opportunities on International Students. [ebook] Available at: [Accessed 12 Aug. 2017].


How long have you been an international student?

Do you miss home?



What was motivated you to seek education abroad?

How much research if any did you do before leaving?

A lot of research

Minimal research


How was your impression of the school when you arrived?

Very good



Very Poor

Did you encounter any challenges in when you arrived at the school?

How long did it take to overcome these challenges?

Less than a month

Less than three months

Less than six months

More than six months

Did you seek help from other students?



How was their response to your problem?

Very Beneficial


Little helpful

Not Helpful

Has the experience in a new country benefited you?



Would you recommend other students to study abroad?



What have you learnt from your experience?

Would you like us to contact you by phone for more follow up questions?



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