Across the Pond: Students struggle with more than language barrier when making international move

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By Erum Rizvi
<erizvi@hilite.org>

For sophomore Josh Cashin, moving from Derby, England to Carmel, IN was not as easy as he expected. Cashin said the hardest part was adjusting to the lifestyle in America which he thought was completely different than the life in his home country.

UN-AMERICANIZED: Sophomore Josh Cashin watches British television. He said he prefers it over American programs because there are less commercials, one of the habits he retained from England. MICHELLE HU / PHOTO

UN-AMERICANIZED: Sophomore Josh Cashin watches British television. He said he prefers it over American programs because there are less commercials, one of the habits he retained from England. MICHELLE HU / PHOTO

“When I moved here, I felt like everything was the opposite from England. For instance, here, everything is so much bigger such as the buildings, cars and houses. It was weird to go from living in a place where things were smaller to a place where everything is huge,” Cashin said.

Cashin is not alone in his plight. The U.S. Census Bureau’s statistics indicate that each year approximately 1.2 million people move to the United States from abroad. These immigrants may face challenges when they adjust to living in a new country. According to a Harvard study, there is a pattern of cultural change that occurs over a period of several weeks or months when people immigrate, more commonly known as “culture shock.”

French teacher Andrea Yocum, who used to live in Senegal, said she believes students sometimes sometimes experience culture shock due to the novelties in a foreign nation. She said, “Students are struggling not only with language barriers, but also adjustments in social situations, societal norms and even things as simple as new foods.”

On the other hand, senior Zulaiha Razak said her move from Sri Lanka two years ago was not as stressful. “Moving here was actually easier than I thought it would be,” Razak said. “I guess I was kind of preparing for the worst, so when I actually got here it wasn’t so bad.”

Aside from adjusting to the new culture when moving, students also need to transition into an entirely new school system. Yocum said schools diff er across the world which could make it hard for students who move to a new place. Cashin said the schools in England were different than the ones in America especially in the teachers’ methods.

“Back home,” he said, “I was really good at math and I understood the techniques really well, but when I moved, the teachers here did not understand the work I showed in my math problems. They didn’t understand my techniques that I was taught back in England.”

Razak said she went to a girl’s school in Sri Lanka. “Our schools had 13 grades there compared to the 12 here and our school was a lot stricter. Students couldn’t bring any cell phones or iPods to school which is completely different from the schools here,” Razak said.

Although Cashin said he suffered some culture shock, he has gotten the gist of the culture here. He said, “When you move, it’s like your life goes into boxes and you open it back up in a new country and it’s just really different because you’re in a completely new place.”

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