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Education

Experts Suggest Ways to Help International Students Make Friends with American Students

Jennifer Parungao and Hossam Shahin, both 19, are international students at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New JerseyJennifer Parungao and Hossam Shahin, both 19, are international students at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey
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Jennifer Parungao and Hossam Shahin, both 19, are international students at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey
Jennifer Parungao and Hossam Shahin, both 19, are international students at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey

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  • Experts Suggest Ways to Help International Students Make Friends

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.
 
Last week, we told how some international students have few friends in their host country when they study overseas. One study in the United States found that thirty-eight percent of foreign students said they had no close American friends. Communications specialist Elisabeth Gareis studied more than four hundred fifty foreign students.
 
VOA Student Union blogger Jessica Stahl also investigated the issue. Her survey showed that seventy-five percent of foreign students said they have more than two American friends. But ten percent reported having no American friends.
 
Elisabeth Gareis teaches in the Department of Communication Studies at Baruch College in New York. She says efforts on how to improve relationships between the two groups of students have yet to be studied in detail. But she says these efforts should begin with the college or university, and that these institutions have been working harder.
 
ELISABETH GARIES: “Institutions should build an infrastructure that promotes contact. And they can do that by, for example, bonding activities at the beginning of the academic year.”
 
She suggests taking walks, going on bicycle, field or camping trips, and attending parties, sporting events or film festivals. She says such activities should be held repeatedly to bring students together throughout the school term. Ms. Gareis also suggests that foreign students share housing with American students.
 
Michigan State University is known for its programs for international students. Last year, about five thousand nine hundred students from one hundred thirty three countries attended Michigan State. They made up perhaps twelve percent of the total university population. Peter Briggs directs the Office for International Students and Scholars at Michigan State. He says more foreign students are expected to register this week.
 
Many students and community members are trained and prepared to help foreign students. The volunteers assist new students as they complete government requirements and find their academic advisors. Mr. Briggs says the volunteers also help answer the traditional questions of new people anywhere.
 
PETER BRIGGS:  “Where do I get an ID (identification card)? Which is the best bank…What is my cell phone plan? How do I get a Social Security number or driver’s license? That kind of information is shared both formally and informally as students advise other students. We’re really supporting that network.”
 
He says that if the new students make friends as they begin school, they will come to feel part of the life and traditions of the university.
 
And that’s the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. To read and listen to more stories for people learning English, go to voaspecialenglish.com. I’m Steve Ember.
 
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Contributing: Jessica Stahl and Ira Mellman
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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
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by: Alex from: RUSSIA
09/14/2012 3:17 PM
It is very useful article. I agree we should communicate more if we want to have more friends, if want to learn new culture and build new relationships across countries. I live in Moscow and there are a lot of students from US here. I am ready to help each one who will need advice or guidance here.


by: Cristian from: Chile
09/02/2012 11:41 PM
i'm from Chile, i want to know people from other countries to practice English by Skype. I speak Spanish.

In Response

by: luckystar dang from: vietnam
09/07/2012 3:05 AM
Hi Cristan. I am from Vietnam. Now, i'd like to make friend with you. Are you agree?


by: Jean
08/27/2012 11:30 PM
It is soooo true that we need activities to bond different groups of people together. I came to the US because of my husband's job. I didn't have any a little bit close American friends until I attended the club to have zumba group classes. If people meet because of the same interests, their friendships will last long. That's what I feel. Language is still a big problem, but not the most important issue. Thanks.


by: Anonymous
08/27/2012 1:39 PM
The timbre is so poor,can improve the quality of the mp3'?


by: Nguyen Thi Long from: Viet Nam
08/27/2012 1:22 PM
I love English. I will try to learn English. I hope that I will find a new job soon.

In Response

by: Ha from: Vietnam
09/12/2012 5:20 AM
I love English too!!! and i'm looking for a new job, hope that everything will be okay

In Response

by: pikachu from: Viet Nam
08/28/2012 2:39 AM
good luck!


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
08/27/2012 10:56 AM
What type of foreign students are bad at making frineds in host countries? It is easily understood that those who are not yet good at speaking host contry's language are rolling into such group. In addition, I suppose those who are eager to study their majors, get doctorates and brush up their carriers also have few friends because they seem indifferent to human relationship with host nations, or exactly speaking, they may not have enough time to enjoy community life. But, I'm sure It is a great support for foreign students those who fail in having native friends against their hope to ask for volunteers to help them.


by: Mohammad from: Iran
08/27/2012 1:04 AM
That sound's great. Hope, it can help them to transfer this culture to their own country in order to have peaceful communication with other countries.


by: BIJU.P.Y. from: SOUTH INDIA
08/26/2012 3:42 PM
I think touring and dining together can help them to good friends. Moreover, the surroundings offered by a university should be congenial to create such a harmony. Thank you.


by: TKY from: Chiba, Japan
08/25/2012 5:21 PM
I think Japanese students aren't good at connect foreign people by themselves because of their national characteristic. So, volunteers who help forein students make friends with American will be strong suppoters!!


by: Manda Gingiro from: Japan
08/24/2012 10:57 PM
I really surprised that international students are suffering about their friends issue, because I think they have open mind and making friends in the host country is one of their reasons staying in foreign country.

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