International Students & Self-Confidence

girl sitting in the library and working at a desk, using a laptop.

By intlst.org Team
August 4, 2016

My education is insufficient to prepare me to study in the U.S. universities or to compete with the American students. That idea comes to the mind of many international students during their first year.

This idea comes particularly to the spirit of international students who came from countries where the educational systems are indigent and lack the minimum necessary resources to improve the students’ academic performance or to enhance the teachers and researchers’ productivity.

Therefore, don’t feel panicked if you also think the same. Here is why it is typical for international students to feel that way.

International students, from developing and least developed countries, will be in shock just for being in one of the American universities, campuses, and classes, where the internet is available everywhere through Wi-Fi, smart devices and boards spread all over the campus, and almost everywhere, including homework, which can be done through email.

In fact, even using email could be confusing for some of these international students, and they may need months before they start feeling comfortable using it.

The library is another challenge for international students from developing and poor countries. Many of these international students avoid going to the library because they consider it a scary place or a “haunted house.” The international students feel frustrated most when they are using the electronic system or the databases of the library.

These systems or databases are integrated parts of the libraries in the U.S. universities, and most of the U.S. students are familiar with navigating and conducting researches using them. Therefore, learning how to deal with the library and its tools, as quickly as possible, is another source of tension for the international students.

Although the technological gap is a significant aspect that affects the international students’ academic performance in the U.S. universities, another factor is of equal importance as well. This factor is self-confidence.

The vast majority of international students in the U.S. came from cultures where people used to, or maybe they were taught, not to ask questions or become curious. The international students came to the U.S. with their cultures and beliefs. Some of the international students do not dare to interrupt the class to ask a question because, in his/her mind, they thought it would not be respectful to interrupt an older person, a professor, while he or she is speaking.

Lacking self-confidence is the real barrier that gets in the way of the engagement and development of the international students in the U.S. universities, not the poor educational background or technological gap.

Do you agree that “self-confidence” is a major problem that international students face? What do you think is the best way to increase self-esteem and confidence?

18 thoughts on “International Students & Self-Confidence

  1. Having an “in” – an honest friend who can help you navigate a new environment – can be really helpful and give you the confidence to know that you can do something like ask a question.

  2. I agree! Also, finding an American friend to help you navigate is a wonderful way to learn the in’s and out’s of American culture. Knowing the how it works, why it works and when it works… is useful!

  3. It is much easier to be confident when you realize that toleranceer on your part will generally result in tolerance from others as long as neither is harmful.

  4. Besides finding a friend to help, just going forward and acting like you have the confidence to do something builds confidence.

  5. Finding an American friend is definitely helpful but also stepping out and taking risks on your own is a huge confidence builder. Great article. Gives great insight on what foreign students deal with

  6. I work in the health care field and I find that interacting with international people gives my life more depth and meaning from learning about other cultures and helping them in their time of need.

  7. Thanks for this thoughtful article. I think it’s important to remember a variety of barriers that come into play when people are choosing to study internationally.

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