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Ten students standing in a close group with smiles on their faces. One girl is on her phone. Another girl is giving a thumbs up. A male student is eating a cup of yogurt.

International Students: Social Lives (Part 2)

By KSU Counseling Services Staff

Students living abroad will deal with a range of relationships—personal, professional, and others.

Dealing with Homesickness

Sometimes, it may be several years before international students can return home. International travel can be prohibitively expensive. There are various bureaucratic rules they have to follow in order to travel back-and-forth, and some students get caught up in visa challenges. (When students do actually get to return home, they often have to face the expectations of families and friends from back home. Some students have to bring back lots of presents. Others have to bring evidence of their academic and professional achievements.)

Still, a majority of student time is going to be spent in the host country. During the various adjustment periods and maybe during holidays, students may feel lonely. The environment is foreign, and making friends may not be the easiest thing. If a student is in a small town, the night life may be somewhat lacking. Depending on the student's personality and the social environment, it may be hard to make friends. This may especially be so until the student's language skills have evolved to fit with the local nuances of the language.

On most university campuses, there are many sponsored events to bring students together, like dinners, movies, talks, and games. Students themselves run clubs based on various interests, and these bring together college students who have similar majors or interests.

For many international students (and many domestic ones), there may be ambiguous signals shared about relationships. It is important to make safe choices in relationships and make sure that the dynamics are healthy and mutually supporting.

Reaching Out in Friendship

Making friends is part of the adventure of studying in a new country. People express so much of their own cultures. They have so many things to share with others—stories, travel adventures, original foods, and ideas. Friends do enrich lives and broaden horizons.

While making new friends, students also will be maintaining their prior relationships. With the popularity of social networking sites and the ease of email, students can maintain their connections with their own support systems back in their home countries.


College students of all backgrounds will need some time to let loose and enjoy themselves. Attending sports events is an important part of American culture. There are common types of entertainment like dining out, attending movies, shopping, traveling, and social events.

(Note: The third part deals with an overview of academics.)

© All staff articles are used by permission of the respective author(s). Copyright belongs to the University Life Café. No part of this may be used without authorization.

International Students: Social Lives (Part 2) (pdf)