Wang Lijuan, a Chinese student from Washington University in St. Louis, faces more challenges than just the language and intensive courses during his first year of study abroad.
"It's hard to make friends at first, and most of my friends are Chinese, no different from home," said the 24-year-old business major. "I have to force myself to get used to how my classmates socialize with each other and find opportunities to meet new friends."
Wang is not alone.
According to Katherine Ratliffe, an associate professor at the University of Hawaii, though increasing numbers of Chinese students are going to the United States for study, many are confronted with differences in values, world views and socializing, especially students with poor English skills, difficult economic situations or divorced families.
"Many students have to struggle with cultural differences," she said at an East-West Center international conference held on Saturday.
"Some get assimilated, some integrated, some marginalized and some simply separated," she said.
Many young Chinese students struggle at making friends and understanding social customs, and some want to go back to China because of loneliness or poor grades, Ratliffe said.
According to a report on Chinese Students Studying Abroad 2011, by China Education Online, the number of Chinese students going to the US to study has grown by more than 20 percent for three consecutive years.
In addition to the increased value of the yuan, encouraging Chinese that the time is right for the investment, the rise of the Chinese middle class also contributes to the trend of overseas study, said Xu Jing of the University of California, Los Angeles.
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