This university has a plan to ease culture shock among international students
International students usually find it hard to adapt to new social norms and surroundings. Source: Shutterstock

University of Wisconsin-Madison has a new summer programme in store for its incoming freshmen from abroad, reports W News.

At the school’s first-ever International Student Summer Institute, first-year international students will be arriving several weeks before the semester starts and take classes in academic reading and writing for non-native English speakers.

Campus and community activities will also be held. The goal? To acclimate them to the American life.

“I didn’t want to experience culture shock,” 17-year-old Alfred Sunaryo from Indonesia said.

Sunaryo will join 24 other students in the four-week programme, all of whom have never been to UW-Madison’s campus or the US.

Tuition, fees, housing, food and classroom materials are all included in the US$5,800 price tag. Students will go through a rigorous, three-credit English as a Second Language (ESL) class which takes place two hours each weekday. They will listen to faculty lectures as well as learn how to take notes, write according to academic norms and participate in discussions.

International students usually experience culture shock when they first arrived. Apart from figuring out the new academic rules, these students also have to navigate a whole new host of social norms and rules with the people in their new surroundings.

“Imagine you’re from another country and how scary it could be to embark on this new educational experience,” says Sandy Arfa, director of the university’s English as a Second Language programme.

“We’re hoping to take some of the edge off that.”

While some students shake off the negative effects of culture shock after a while, others continue to be adversely impacted by it, causing their studies and social life to suffer.

According to Quartz, the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication reports 40 percent of international students say they have no close American friends – a rate found to be higher among East Asian students.

While most universities hold orientation for its foreign cohort, Min A Kim, 21, a UW–Madison psychology major who was born in South Korea, says the amount of information imparted and the number of students involved can be a bit overwhelming.

Kim, who now serves as a house fellow this summer for the institute said: “I often wished there had been a programme like this when I was a freshman.

“It allows students to settle in before the rush of the fall semester.”

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