College Success Tips for a Study Abroad Program

I won't say that some of the world's best students get an opportunity to study abroad but yes, some of the most fortunate students get this opportunity. These students, despite their strong academic backgrounds face real challenges adapting to the university environment on a foreign soil.

I consider North America, Canada and Europe as the hottest spots for study abroad programs. This assumption is courtesy statistics provided in higher education chronicles. Keeping in mind the revenue generated by American Universities from foreign nationals one can easily understand the reason for America topping the destination chart. One need not be apprehensive about the education system in the aforementioned destinations.

For my first six months in class I didn't speak anything and even if the professor was wrong I never raised a question. In my system a teacher is revered no matter what but, professors in America want students to express their own views. They want vigorous discussion, even if it means disagreeing with faculty and classmates. The goal is to foster expertise, originality, and independent assessment. The sooner a student knows that, the better. That was just an example and students may face various challenges and it's hard to sum up all situations in an article. Let's see how I can help you with the facts which form some of the baseline requirements for succeeding in a foreign university

Tips-1: Communication in English- Oral and Written

English by and large is the most common language around the world for day to day human interaction. If you plan to study abroad and you know English, that's half the battle won. From travel to job interviews and from classroom to conference, limited knowledge of English hinders progress in Europe and America. You might be a scholar in your home country but in this country it hardly matters unless you have the right marketing tool i.e strong communication skills in English. Your participation in class is welcomed and often required. You may not be intelligent but you are enthusiastic and that's what the instructors look for in an American/ European college.

Tips-2: Becoming flexible to accommodate hectic schedules and classes.

I have always been an evening person. But when you go for a study abroad program you need to be a 24 hour person. Reading assignments are extensive, much more than international students are used to doing each week. Typically, international students work in the day and go for classes in evening. Little margin is left for many of your routine activities which you were able to perform in your home country. Rather than cribbing try to adapt as soon as possible. Sooner the better. Period.

Tips-3: Maintaining integrity and academic honesty.

Expressing your own, non plagiarized, original views in the form of papers, class discussions, and research. Students here are continually evaluated on performance, not just at end of course. Academic performance is stressed. Admission to top schools is not an end in itself. It's important to do well there.

International students need to understand American/European standards of academic honesty. In particular, they should recognize that proper quotations and citations are essential. That's not always true in their home countries. The differences in standards can lead to serious problems for international students. What may be an innocent mistake or cultural misunderstanding can easily lead to change of plagiarism, with severe repercussions. That's why it's so important for international students to learn Eurpean/ American standards of academic honesty and incorporate them in their own work.

American instructors and European teachers appreciate if you tell them in their face "I was in no mood to study and so I didn't do my homework". It may sound strange for some of you but it works like that at least in America. One of my friends always said "Human beings are valued more in these countries". He would say that after making an excuse for not submitting his homework and getting 7 extra days from our professor for submitting the same homework.

Tips-4: Asking for help and volunteering.

One, who knows that he knows not, knows something. In my opinion American and Canadian professors are the most welcoming and unassuming while answering questions. They try to answer even the most hilarious questions with lot of sincerity and by chance if they don't know the answer they will honestly say "I never knew this but as soon as I find the answer I will get back to you". Pluralism is a fact of life in North American universities and a key value shared by students, faculty, and the wider society. Tolerance for others is expected.

Author:
Dr.Jagdish Khubchandani is A Research Assitant in the Department of Public Health at Western Kentucky University.

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