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Experiences & Aspirations of Foreign Students in the USA

In an era marked by globalization and cultural exchange, the experiences of international students studying abroad provide invaluable insights into cross-cultural dynamics, educational systems, and societal perceptions. This is the second survey in the series of “The Survey Reportika” presented by the Investigative Journalism Reportika. This iteration aims to delve into the multifaceted experiences and perspectives of students from China, India, and South Korea studying in universities across the United States of America. These three countries are among the top sources of international students in the USA, making their perspectives particularly significant. Conducted anonymously, this survey gathered responses from 1,500 students, with 500 each from China, India, and South Korea, enrolled in various universities throughout the USA. The participants, while representing diverse academic disciplines and backgrounds, shared their candid insights on a range of topics, including their academic experiences, cultural adjustment, perceptions of freedom, views on their home countries, and reflections on their decision to study abroad. By exploring the perspectives of these students, this report endeavors to offer a nuanced understanding of their academic journeys, cultural adaptation processes, and evolving perceptions of their home countries and the USA. Through their anonymity, participants were able to express themselves freely, contributing valuable insights that can inform future discussions on international education, cultural exchange, and global citizenship. In the following sections, we present a detailed analysis of the survey findings, categorized into relevant themes, accompanied by reflections and implications drawn from the data. It is our hope that this report serves as a resource for educators, policymakers, and stakeholders interested in fostering a more inclusive and enriching educational environment for all students, regardless of their cultural background or nationality. Download the complete Report : Click Here Survey Overview Conducted from February 1, 2024, to April 30, 2024, this extensive survey engaged 1,500 participants from diverse backgrounds, seeking to delve into the sentiments of students from China, India, and South Korea pursuing higher education in the USA. Utilizing a hybrid approach that blends offline and online methods, the survey ensures comprehensive representation across genders, religions, and ethnicities. Designed to explore motivations, challenges, and aspirations, this study aims to provide a nuanced understanding of the experiences of international students abroad, contributing valuable insights to ongoing conversations on global education, cultural adaptation, and international relations. (Click on the following questions and representational images to read the opinions and survey statistics.) Q1: What motivated you to pursue higher education in the USA instead of your home country? Q2: From your experience, how would you rate the academic environment in the USA compared to your home country? Q3: How do you foresee studying in the USA impacting your future career compared to studying in your home country? Q4: How challenging have you found adapting to cultural differences between your home country and the USA? Q5: How important is it for you to maintain your connection to your native identity while living in the USA? Q6: Do you feel more personally free in the USA compared to China? Q7: How would you rate the differences in political and social freedoms between your home country and the USA? Q8: What do you see as the major challenges facing your home country today? Q9: After completing your course in the USA, how likely are you to stay in USA and work towards your career aspirations? Q10: What misconceptions about your home country have you encountered while living in the USA? Conclusion The survey highlights key motivations for international students choosing the USA for higher education. Among Chinese students, 36% cite dissatisfaction with China’s political system and restrictions on freedom. For Indian students, 34% are concerned about the rigidity and outdated nature of education system. Among South Korean students, 32% seek a global perspective and exposure to international cultures. These percentages underscore the perceived drawbacks of their home countries’ systems and the benefits of studying in the USA. The survey also reveals that 42% of Chinese students, 39% of Indian students, and 13% of South Korean students find the academic environment in the USA much better than in their home countries, highlighting greater academic freedom, diverse opportunities, and advanced resources in the USA. The survey highlights varied perspectives on political and social freedoms among international students. For China, 51% of respondents find freedoms much greater in the USA due to censorship and surveillance in China. In comparison, 39% of Indian students believe the USA offers greater freedoms, citing discrimination and women’s rights issues in India. For South Korea, 42% view freedoms as comparable between the two countries, but 29% see the USA as offering somewhat or much greater freedoms due to broader speech rights and a less hierarchical societal structure. Meanwhile, a notable 33% of Indian respondents believe political and social freedoms are greater in India, highlighting social schemes and constitutional protections. The survey highlights the career aspirations of international students after completing their studies in the USA. Among Chinese students, 76% plan to return to China to contribute to its development, while 11% are very likely to stay in the USA for career opportunities in tech hubs like Silicon Valley. Indian students show a strong inclination to remain in the USA, with 40% very likely to stay, inspired by successful Indian CEOs in the West. However, 39% prefer to return to India to aid its progress. South Korean students are more moderate, with 32% very likely to stay in the USA, 45% somewhat likely, and 23% planning to return home to apply their skills. In summation, the comprehensive survey captures the intricate tapestry of experiences and perspectives among international students studying in the USA. From motivations for pursuing higher education abroad to assessments of academic environments and considerations for post-graduation career paths, the survey provides valuable insights into the dynamics of cross-cultural interactions, educational aspirations, and societal contributions. It underscores the pivotal role of international education in fostering global understanding, facilitating personal and professional growth, and driving socio-economic development worldwide. By shedding light on the complex interplay of individual…

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What do you see as the major challenges facing your home country today?

Download Complete Report: Click Here Challenges faced by China Censorship: 38% identified censorship as a major challenge facing China, citing restrictions on freedom of speech and expression as impediments to open discourse and societal progress. Dwindling Global Image: 20% students expressed concern about China’s global image, which is often perceived as authoritarian and lacking in respect for human rights and democratic values. They noted the importance of improving China’s international reputation to foster positive relationships with other nations. Discontent Among Ethnic Groups: 17% students highlighted the discontent among ethnic minority groups such as Uyghurs and Tibetans, pointing to issues of cultural suppression, human rights abuses, and ethnic discrimination. Rising Inequality: 14% students highlighted inequality as a significant challenge, citing disparities in wealth, access to education, healthcare, and opportunities between urban and rural areas, as well as among different socioeconomic groups. Poor Work-life balance: 11% identified work-life balance as a major challenge facing China, pointing to long working hours, intense competition, and high levels of stress in the workplace as factors contributing to poor quality of life and mental health issues. Challenges faced by India Outdated Education System: The education system was identified as a critical challenge by 31% of respondents. They criticized the system for promoting rote learning, outdated teaching methods, and a lack of emphasis on innovation and critical thinking skills. Many called for reforms to make education more relevant, practical, and conducive to fostering creativity and problem-solving abilities among students. Corruption: A significant portion of 26 % respondents cited corruption as a major challenge facing India. They expressed concerns about pervasive corruption in local government offices, including encounters with corrupt practices such as bribery, particularly with traffic police. However, many respondents noted a positive trend of decreasing corruption due to ongoing digital initiatives in India. High Pollution: Pollution was identified as a pressing challenge, particularly in urban areas, by 19% of respondents. They highlighted the detrimental effects of pollution on public health, the environment, and overall quality of life, emphasizing the urgent need for measures to address air, water, and noise pollution. Unemployment: Unemployment emerged as a significant concern among respondents, with 14% expressing worry about the lack of job opportunities in the country. Many cited under-employment as a common issue, where individuals are unable to find jobs that match their qualifications and skills, leading to frustration and economic instability. Inadequate Health infrastructure: 10% respondents highlighted the inadequate health infrastructure in India as a major challenge. They expressed concerns about long waiting times in government hospitals and high costs of treatment in private healthcare facilities, making access to quality healthcare difficult for many individuals, especially those from lower-income backgrounds. Challenges faced by South Korea Aging Population: 34% mentioned South Korea’s rapidly aging population is its biggest challenge. Respondents highlighted concerns about the increasing burden on the pension system, healthcare services, and the workforce shrinking as the elderly population grows. They stressed the need for policies to address these demographic changes, such as encouraging higher birth rates and implementing better support systems for the elderly. Mental Health Issues: 23% participants raised concerns about the mental health crisis in South Korea. They pointed to high rates of stress, depression, and suicide, particularly among students and young adults. The respondents called for more comprehensive mental health services, increased awareness, and reduced stigma around seeking help for mental health issues. Youth Unemployment: 20% respondents pointed to the high youth unemployment rate as a pressing issue. They noted that despite South Korea’s advanced economy, many young people struggle to find stable and well-paying jobs. This challenge is often attributed to the high level of competition in the job market and the mismatch between the education system and the needs of the labor market. Political Polarization: 13% respondents mentioned the increasing political polarization in South Korea as a significant challenge. They observed that the political landscape has become more divided, which has led to social tensions and a lack of consensus on important national issues. They stressed the importance of fostering dialogue and cooperation across different political and social groups to ensure stable and effective governance. Real Estate and Housing Prices: 10% identified the soaring real estate and housing prices, particularly in major cities like Seoul. Respondents expressed concern about the affordability of housing for young families and the impact of high property prices on social inequality. They emphasized the need for government intervention to stabilize the housing market and make home ownership more accessible.

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