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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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How would you rate the differences in political and social freedoms between your home country and the USA?

Download Complete Report: Click Here Much Greater in the USA China: 51% indicated that political and social freedoms are much greater in the USA. They cited the presence of censorship, surveillance, and the social credit system in China, which restricts freedom of speech and expression. Additionally, they appreciated the political freedoms enjoyed in the USA, such as the right to vote, freedom of speech, and access to diverse sources of information. India: 10% believed that political and social freedoms are much greater in the USA. They cited factors such as the prevalent caste system, discrimination, lesser women’s rights, and rising violence against women in India. They also raised concerns about the integrity of elections and LGBT rights in India. South Korea: 9% emphasized the broader freedoms in the USA, highlighting more extensive freedom of speech, robust protection of individual rights, and a more open media environment compared to South Korea. Somewhat Greater in the USA China: 31% acknowledged that political and social freedoms are somewhat greater in the USA. They highlighted the democratic system allowing for diverse opinions without fear of reprisal and concerns about the non-cooperative nature of law enforcement in China. South Korea: 16% noted that while both countries enjoy considerable freedoms, the USA offers slightly more leeway in terms of social movements, freedom of expression, and a less hierarchical societal structure. India: 14% felt that political and social freedoms are somewhat greater in the USA. They mentioned issues such as the slow pace of police and judicial systems in India, fear of these systems, and corruption leading to inequality. About the Same in Both Countries South Korea: 42% felt that political and social freedoms are quite comparable. Both countries have strong democratic institutions, vibrant civil societies, and legal frameworks that protect individual freedoms. India: 35% believed that political and social freedoms are about the same in both countries. They emphasized the democratic principles upheld by both nations and the protection of individual freedoms. China: 12% viewed political and social freedoms as about the same in both countries. They noted that control is effectively in the hands of the rich and powerful in both, with differences in political transparency and accountability. Somewhat Greater in Home Country South Korea: 20% found South Korea to have somewhat greater freedoms, appreciating the high degree of social cohesion, community-focused values, and societal respect for education and public order. India: 18% perceived that political and social freedoms are somewhat greater in India. They highlighted initiatives such as reservations for government jobs and electoral seats aimed at uplifting the downtrodden and poor in India. China: 5% believed that political and social freedoms are somewhat greater in China. They pointed to rapid economic development facilitated by the one-party rule of the Communist Party of China (CPC) as evidence of political stability and progress. Much Greater in Home Country India: 23% believed that political and social freedoms are much greater in India. They pointed to various schemes targeting women and the downtrodden, the accessibility of the judicial system, and the strength of the Indian constitution. Concerns about racial discrimination in the USA were also noted. South Korea: 13% highlighted aspects of South Korean society such as the emphasis on public safety, efficient governance, and a culture promoting individual responsibility and collective well-being. They also appreciated the sense of security and trust in public institutions in South Korea. China: 1% felt that political and social freedoms are much greater in China compared to the USA. They highlighted the efficient implementation of policies by the Chinese government, leading to rapid economic development and progress in infrastructure and technology.

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How important is it for you to maintain your connection to your native identity while living in the USA?

Download Complete Report: Click Here Very Important India: 45% consider it very important to maintain their connection to their Indian identity. They stay updated on Indian news, culture, and politics, and celebrate festivals, follow cricket matches, and watch Indian movies. China: 41% consider it very important to maintain their connection to their Chinese identity. They engage in cultural events, prepare traditional dishes, and preserve their linguistic identity through language exchange programs. Most of these students live within the Chinese diaspora in the USA. South Korea: 39% of students emphasized the importance of staying connected to their South Korean identity. They celebrate traditional festivals, participate in cultural events, and maintain culinary traditions, finding solace and belonging through these practices. Somewhat Important India: 31% view maintaining their Indian identity as somewhat important. They stay connected through social media and occasionally follow Indian politics, while also celebrating festivals and language. They balance staying connected with avoiding homesickness. China: 29% view maintaining their Chinese identity as somewhat important. They recognize its significance but prioritize it less than those who find it very important. They maintain connections through social media platforms like WeChat and TikTok. South Korea: 25% find it somewhat important to maintain their South Korean identity. They practice the Korean language through exchange programs, classes, or speaking with family and friends, and stay connected via social media and legacy media. Neutral South Korea: 20% acknowledged the importance of their South Korean identity but did not prioritize it highly. They keep up with news and cultural trends but do not engage deeply in cultural practices. China: 15% expressed neutrality about maintaining their Chinese identity. They do not actively preserve their cultural heritage and linguistic identity. India: 14% expressed neutrality about maintaining their Indian identity. They engage moderately with social media and cultural events, occasionally following Indian politics and cultural happenings. Not Very Important South Korea: 9% found maintaining their South Korean identity not very important. They focus more on adapting to American culture and integrating into the local community. China: 7% indicated that maintaining their Chinese identity is not very important. They focus on assimilating into American culture and do not actively engage in preserving their cultural heritage. India: 6% indicated that maintaining their Indian identity is not very important. They have limited interest in social media connections and do not actively follow events in their home country. Not Important at All China: 8% stated that maintaining their Chinese identity is not important at all. They have fully embraced American culture and do not feel a strong attachment to their cultural heritage. South Korea: 7% considered maintaining their South Korean identity not important at all. They prefer embracing a new identity in the USA and do not find cultural connections crucial to their sense of self or well-being. India: 4% stated that maintaining their Indian identity is not important at all. They have fully assimilated into American culture, with minimal engagement in Indian cultural events or politics.

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How challenging have you found adapting to cultural differences between your home country and the USA?

Download Complete Report: Click Here Very Easy China: 7% of participants found it very easy to adapt to cultural differences between China and the USA. They had prior exposure to diverse cultures, strong language skills, or personal traits that facilitated their adaptation process. India: 6% of participants found it very easy to adapt to cultural differences between India and the USA. They had prior exposure to diverse cultures, strong language skills, and personal traits that facilitated their adaptation process. South Korea: 5% of students felt that adapting to cultural differences was very easy. They mentioned their previous exposure to Western culture through media, travel, or education, which helped them adjust smoothly. They also cited the welcoming and diverse environment in the USA as a factor that eased their transition. Somewhat Easy China: 20% of participants indicated that they found it somewhat easy to adapt to cultural differences between China and the USA. They faced minor challenges but overall found the adjustment process manageable due to their openness to new experiences and willingness to adapt. India: 20% of participants indicated that they found it somewhat easy to adapt to cultural differences between India and the USA. They faced minor challenges but overall found the adjustment process manageable due to their openness to new experiences and willingness to adapt. They also pointed out that a large and helpful Indian diaspora in the USA assisted them in the process. South Korea: 17% of students found the adaptation process somewhat easy. They highlighted the support systems available at universities, such as international student offices and cultural exchange programs, which helped them navigate cultural differences. They also appreciated the openness and friendliness of American peers. Neutral South Korea: 31% of students expressed neutrality regarding the difficulty of adapting to cultural differences. They acknowledged both the challenges and the supports available, feeling that the process was neither particularly difficult nor easy. These students often cited a balanced mix of familiar and unfamiliar cultural aspects that made their experience neutral. India: 24% of participants reported feeling neutral about the challenge of adapting to cultural differences between India and the USA. They did not encounter significant difficulties or differences that stood out during their adaptation process, appreciating the blend of familiar and new experiences in both countries. China: 13% of participants reported feeling neutral about the challenge of adapting to cultural differences between China and the USA. They did not encounter significant difficulties or differences that stood out during their adaptation process. Somewhat Challenging India: 30% of participants found it somewhat challenging to adapt to cultural differences between India and the USA. They faced obstacles such as language nuances, cultural norms, and lifestyle adjustments. Most participants in this category missed their parents and family and found it challenging to accept the new culture. China: 28% of participants found it somewhat challenging to adapt to cultural differences between China and the USA. They encountered obstacles such as language barriers, unfamiliar social norms, and differences in daily routines. Additionally, they faced stereotypes or misconceptions about their culture, which contributed to their sense of challenge. South Korea: 27% of students mentioned finding the cultural adaptation somewhat challenging. They cited difficulties such as language barriers, different social norms, and the high-paced and individualistic nature of American society. These students often missed the communal and hierarchical aspects of South Korean culture and found it hard to adjust to the more informal and egalitarian interactions in the USA. Very Challenging China: 32% of participants reported finding it very challenging to adapt to cultural differences between China and the USA. They experienced significant barriers such as racism and discrimination. These factors heightened their feelings of isolation, stress, and difficulty in integrating into the new cultural environment. India: 20% of participants reported finding it very challenging to adapt to cultural differences between India and the USA. They encountered significant obstacles in navigating unfamiliar social customs, overcoming language barriers, and adjusting to different societal norms, which posed significant challenges to their integration into the new cultural environment. They missed helpful Indians back home and colorful festivals while adapting to the new place. South Korea: 20% of students felt that adapting to cultural differences was very challenging. They cited factors such as racism, stereotypes, and a lack of understanding or acceptance from peers as significant barriers. These students missed the culture and food of South Korea the most. They also struggled with homesickness and the stark contrast in educational and social systems between the two countries.

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