Thursday, November 12, 2015

Why Aren’t Americans and International Students Becoming Friends?

Taken from: Jessica Stahl, Voice of America.

Yesterday we learned that American students like having international students on campus. Only 10% of the American students who took our anonymous survey (a survey designed to find out what Americans really think about their international classmates) told us that they wouldn’t want more international students at their school.
But what we didn’t discuss yesterday is that this positive attitude towards international students isn’t necessarily translating into friendships. Although 85% of American students who took our survey reported having at least one international friend, only about 50% said they have more than two international friends. The international students in our survey had a slightly different experience. 75% said they have more than two American friends. But 10% told us they have no American friends at all. And that may be an optimistic estimate. A recent study by Baruch College professor Elisabeth Gareis found that more than one in three international students have no close American friends.

Why the separation? Some American students in our survey acknowledged they don’t do as much as they could to get to know international students.

“When I was a student I didn’t make an effort to get to know international students because they weren’t in my classes or in any of the organizations I was in,” said a graduate from the University of California, Berkeley.

Randy from the University of Kansas explained, “I am a natural introvert, which may have made communication between myself and other international students even more difficult.”

And several international students said that they feel more comfortable hanging out with other international students than with Americans. “Most of the international students in my social environment are from Asian countries and thus they are brought up in a similar culture to me and I find it easier to communicate with them,” said one international student at Oberlin College, adding that “we are used to live our lives in a more similar way compared to Americans.” Read more...