While all new students may feel a degree of isolation and homesickness, international students can experience this twofold. Language, food, social behavior, and communication are all new, different, and perhaps strange to international students.
International students are often surprised by the degree of informality in the American classroom. In many of their cultures, faculty members are considered to be "on a pedestal" and very unapproachable. As a result, international students are uncomfortable speaking in class, particularly when they might appear to be questioning the teacher’s knowledge or authority. Their initial unfamiliarity with the US university culture and with the English language often makes them reluctant to participate in any classroom discussion.
Advisors can assist international students by reassuring them that it is acceptable to ask questions and express opinions in the classroom. They might remind advisees that, in some courses, class participation is expected and will make up a certain percentage of the final grade. Also, advisors can encourage international students to take advantage of faculty office hours to
ask for help or clarification on points they might have missed in class.
Advisors need to be aware that international students who are in the US on a student visa are required by law to be enrolled in at least twelve credit hours for the duration of each semester. Summer enrollment is optional. International students do not have the luxury of dropping below twelve hours because they are failing one or more classes. They must maintain full‐time enrollment in order to remain in legal status. However, there are exceptions to this immigration regulation during a student’s first enrollment period or in the event of a serious medical problem. International students may not enroll in correspondence courses. They may only take one online course per twelve-hour enrollment.