Acculturation

 

How We Provide Guidance:

 

Successfully adapting to U.S. culture is difficult, even for talented students.  It requires learning about cultural norms through social interaction.

 

Successful cultural adaption is necessary to gain the greatest educational benefit from overseas study.  Most American schools do not actively promote social interaction between international students and American students.  It is difficult to make real friendships across cultural and linguistic barriers.

Ultimately, most international students give up on their attempts to make American friends. They spend most of their social time with other international students.  They wish they had more opportunities to practice their conversational English skills. They do not participate fully in classroom discussions. This can adversely affect their grades.  It sometimes leads to isolation and even depression. In such circumstances, students often do not tell their parents they are struggling.  They do not want to worry their parents.

Another culturally based barrier is lack of familiarity with American teaching methods.  In general, international students do not understand the expectations of American professors. They find it difficult to connect with American classmates.  This adversely affects their academic experience and eventual career success.

In addition, being in a foreign environment, far from home and family, is emotionally stressful.  It is challenging to make friends across cultures.  Thus, international students tend to cluster together with students from their home country.  This limits their linguistic development and acculturation. This is especially true for Chinese students because their numbers are growing rapidly at U.S. high schools, colleges, and universities.

Often, Chinese students find themselves surrounded by fellow nationals in their classes.  "I may as well be at Beijing University," commented one Chinese graduate student.  She was expressing her frustration and disappointment at finding herself in orientation and in classes with mostly Chinese classmates.  She knew that this would limit her opportunity for cross-cultural interaction and acculturation. 

At Fuja, we work closely with families to choose an American school which will truly welcome and value their son or daughter.  We strongly recommend choosing schools that have a limited number of international students from any particular country.   In such environments, students interact more with Americans and make  friendships across cultures.  Also, we evaluate the quality and level of administrative support offered by the school.  We look for schools which specifically design programs to help international students adjust and acculturate.  In addition, we help students clarify their own interests and talents.  We then help them select appropriate extra-curricular activities, volunteer or community service work, and even internships.  We think creatively about how to help our students connect with Americans.