Common challenges faced by Indian students while studying in the USA

Learn about the challenges that Indian students face while studying in the USA, from coping with cultural differences to managing expenses and homesickness.

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Common challenges faced by Indian students while studying in the USA
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Apr 17, 2023 04:44 AM
Studying abroad offers an exceptional prospect to grow academically, professionally, and personally while going on a one-of-a-kind adventure. There are numerous advantages to studying abroad; however, there are many problems as well. What actually is it like for an Indian student to study overseas? The truth is, it is not as easy as it seems. Most Indian students have a lot of questions, doubts and significant concerns about their life in their host country.

Here is the list of the most fundamental challenges you will have to cope within the USA:

Managing expenses

Pursuing higher studies abroad is pretty expensive, and students may face financial problems at some point or the other. While taking into account the cost connected with studying outside your home country, students have to look after their tuition costs, accommodation costs, living expenses, books, cost of travelling, etc. It may also be essential to procure a personal computer or a laptop etc. to help oneself study. During a monetary crisis, it may be challenging to organize for crucial funds needed to take care of costs.
The scale of this difficulty depends on two factors:
  • The pocket money that you get from your parents.
  • Whether you have a part-time job or not.
Students need to prioritize their expenses and accordingly manage their expenses.


At some point, after you arrive in the USA, homesickness sinks in. You will feel homesick in your near the beginning days. Your mother’s mollycoddle, home-cooked food, father’s words of knowledge, naughtiness with siblings, and hanging out with friends at your favorite places, you will miss them all. It’s alright to feel homesick as long as it doesn’t affect your experience of living abroad. You and your family have given up a lot to get you into this school. Intermingle with other intercontinental students and make friends fill the empty space. If time allows, become a member of some exploratory group or any other club of your fondness.

Coping with cultural differences

There is a big list of enlightening cultural norms in the USA which, if followed in India, can cause problems. For e.g., small talk. We all have been regularly advised –” not to talk to strangers”. In the USA, you will see every second person flash a smile and trying to take on small talks. Starting from your uber driver to the cashier at a grocery store. It is a practice there and is considered gracious. Likewise, there are other cultural differences in terms of dressing sense, accent, the way you are greeted, which takes an extensive amount of time for a person to decode and later get used to.

Communication Problems

The main complexity that Indian students face on campus is how to work together with other international and American students and professors. A vast majority of Indian students, even some of those who have graduated in the English medium from well-known schools in big cities in India, not to speak of small towns, find it difficult to talk with other students, mainly Americans.
The problems connected with communicating with others also concern Indian students’ academic interactions. Many Indian students are fearful to ask questions associated with their subjects or to answer teachers’ questions. They are scared that their teachers might not understand them or that their incapability to speak clearly might call mock from their colleagues.
Slight differences in body language between Americans and Indians, too frequently cause awkward situations. For instance, while meeting someone for the first time, Indian students may offer a not so warm handshake or a “crusher,” while a concrete handshake is what Americans look forward to.
Another facet that Indian students fail to observe early enough is that Americans value “personal space,” which is more or less an arm’s length from the next person, even a good friend. Indians, possibly because they are used to jam-packed public spaces, sometimes don’t understand what maybe they are standing too close to the next person.

Time zone annoyances

Trying to plot a route between two time zones on opposite ends of the planet can be annoying at best. You continuously need to double-check what times are most suited to which time zone and get in the routine of making phone calls early in the morning or late in the evenings.

Overcoming the language barrier

Indian students leaving for countries such as the U.K., U.S., Australia etc. where English is spoken as the first language, may find it tricky to overcome the language barricade. Students may find it hard to speak confidently in English and at times may find it hard to understand what the citizens have to say unmistakably. The constant use of English words and phrases may differ in diverse countries abroad. Although there are benchmark examinations such as TOEFL, i.e. Test of English as a Foreign Language, IELTS test, GRE, GMAT that a student has to clear before getting admission in a foreign university, matching the speed, pronunciation and tone of the foreign counterparts may be exigent.

Living an independent lifestyle

For an Indian student, it may be hard to administer the entire cooking, cleaning, washing etc. in the start unless used to these jobs along with studies. Unlike India, it is very costly and complicated to hire help to get these jobs done. In abroad countries such as U.K., USA even domestic servant charge on an hourly basis which may be very hard to pay for. Hence Indian students may face trouble in overseeing household chores with studies. Although, with time, the students will be able to implement such a lifestyle and learn to go back and forth between nations, pay bills and handle expenses by themselves.
The stay abroad for an Indian student could be life-changing. One may face trouble but for a short-interval of 5 to 6 months, before it becomes part of their daily schedule. Indians love to brag about the cultural variety of their land, but it is not until they turn up at a U.S. university that they come across the actual thing. All said and done, some things remain the same wherever you go in India, but new Indian students who turn up in the U.S. are never reasonably ready for the cultural tidal wave that wait for them on campus.

Accommodation problems

Indian students may find it hard to find appropriate accommodation in an overseas place while doing higher studies. It may also be very tedious to find housing that is close to the university campus, has a high-quality infrastructure and suits their financial plan.

Problems in Academics / Studies

Indian students, most of whom have been educated by rote learning to score in exams, take time to be grateful for the differences between the Indian and the American systems of education. As one student remarks on another website, Indian students enter U.S. campuses as outstanding test-takers, but they need to become high-quality researchers to do well further. Making this alteration is not simple for a majority of Indian students arriving in the U.S.
The obligation to learn concepts and articulate this understanding is a significant obstacle for Indian students who are used to spoon-feeding and rote learning. The notion that the campus is a place to obtain information and not just a stepping stone to a great financial career and that teachers and libraries are possessions in the pursuit of learning is lost on many students. Many understand late that only they are in charge of their academic performance. Respect for rules and regulations is educated the hard way in many cases. Regrettably, the fact that copying is serious academic wrongdoing in the U.S. is allowed only after the first punishment.

Time management issues

Time management is an infuriating quandary for Indian students on U.S. campuses. Many Indians are not used to timekeeping in their own country, and schedules for classes and meetings are often not respected. They carry this habit to their U.S. universities, with adverse results. The concept of time management is very much discussed in India but often remains only on paper. Failure to administer time affects academic arrangements because syllabus in U.S. schools is planned to be engrossed over a period rather than in a feverish season of last-minute cramming.
These challenges may seem staggering. Do not be anxious. Look forward to a new commencement, a new place, new people, and most significantly, a paradigm move in your life. Your hard work and never giving up attitude will sail you through all odds.