This resource provides guidance to international students at Lafayette College on a variety of topics to empower them towards academic success and well-being. The recommendations were developed following discussions held between international students, faculty, and staff members during a forum co-sponsored by the Center for the Integration of Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship; the International Students Association; the Office of International Student Advising; and the English for Academic Purposes Center. All international students are encouraged to read this information to support their success at Lafayette College.
While most students experience difficulties at one time or another when transitioning to college for the first time, international students may experience some that are unique to them due to the additional pressure of adjusting to new cultural norms, food, language, communication styles, and a different academic environment from home. Feeling a sense of cultural shock is a common experience, and being able to identify it can help you process your feelings and give yourself time to adjust. While different people may experience culture shock differently, some common experiences students may have include:
Here are some tips to help you cope if you are experiencing culture shock or adjustment difficulties:
In this video, several individuals who studied abroad share their experiences on how they became more acclimated to their new country.
Please know that it is not uncommon to reach out for professional help as you are navigating the adjustment process. The Counseling Center offers free and confidential services to all students. The office is located on the 2nd floor of Bailey Health Center. You can call (610-330-5005) or stop by the office to speak with a counselor.
Imposter phenomenon is the feeling that one does not belong although they are qualified to be part of a particular community. As an international student in a new country, it is very common to experience these feelings. Being able to recognize and identify imposter phenomenon can be empowering. This second video also describes a study conducted on this phenomenon in student populations. The researcher provides some guidance such as being kind to yourself and recognizing that you do not need to prove yourself, and reaching out to those around you such as your friends, family members, and professors.
Peers can be wonderful mentors. In addition to peers who share similar backgrounds and experiences, forming relationships with students who have been attending Lafayette longer or have different experiences that you can learn from can be very helpful. Peer mentorship can also support both acclimatization and feelings of imposter phenomenon. Peer mentors can come from a variety of organizations and initiatives such as the International Orientation Team, Conversation Pardners, ISAnchor mentorship program within the International Students’ Orientation, Resident Advisors, Supplemental Instruction leaders, or co-curricular activities such clubs.
In your secondary school experiences you might be accustomed to specific types of interactions with your teachers. Interacting with professors at Lafayette might be different. In general, respectful dialogue is important. Typically, students address their Lafayette instructors by “Professor X” although some professors might indicate they would prefer you to use their first name or a nickname. This informality might be different from what you have experienced in the past. In general, avoid addressing your professors as “Mr.,” “Ms.”, or “Mrs.” unless they indicate otherwise. Typically those terms are used in secondary education in the United States. By default use the title of professor in salutations unless otherwise indicated.
When communicating with professors via email be sure to allow time for them to respond. Some professors might indicate early in a course the timing of when you can expect a return message. Professors are juggling a variety of responsibilities from course prep, teaching courses, office hours, scholarship, service, and other responsibilities. Please be aware that professors are not obligated to respond at all hours of the night and on weekends as they also need rest and time away to support their well-being.
Lastly, please ensure that any email communications are clear and avoid using language that might be more appropriate for a text message.
Every course at Lafayette is required to have a syllabus. The syllabus is a document that provides information about a course and should be carefully read and revisited during the term.
A few key areas to be mindful of are:
Many Lafayette professors use Moodle as a course management tool. Each course has a designated Moodle site. This site might include general information about the course, as well as announcements, readings, activities, assessments, and grades. Moodle course sites can be accessed through your My Lafayette student portal. See the FAQs posted by ITS and the Technology Guide for Students.
Gateway Career Center supports students seeking career related experiences including choosing a major, campus employment, internships, externships, job searches, grad school applications, interview prep, resume, cover letters, application essays, LinkedIn, connecting with alumni and other professionals, etc.
Gateway career counselors will work with you one-on-one to support you in every aspect of your career development. Be sure to engage with your career counselor during your first-year to explore possibilities and opportunities for your future.
In general, forming connections can support both your academic success and well-being. Make every effort to build such relationships during your time at Lafayette. An excellent resource is the open access book Connections Are Everything: A College Students’ Guide to Relationship-Rich Education by Felten et al. (2023). This book provides practical guidance with how to form relationships with peers, professors, and staff members and make the most out of your college experience.