5 Titles: What Is It Like to Be an International Student?

Stephanie FordThe 5 Titles series highlights books, music, and films in the library’s collection featuring topics related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or highlighting the work of authors from diverse backgrounds. Each post is intended to provide a brief sampling of titles rather than a comprehensive overview of the topic. This month, the five titles have been selected by Evening Research Services Librarian Stephanie Fordand they all relate to the experiences of international students in higher education.


What Do International Students Think and Feel?: Adapting to U.S. College  Life and Culture (Michigan Teacher Training (Paperback)): Gebhard, Jerry  G.: 9780472034062: BooksWhat Do International Students Think and Feel? Adapting to U.S. College Life and Culture by Jerry G. Gebhard (2010). This collection gathers personal stories from international students studying at schools throughout the United States. Students write about their cultural adaptation, including their challenges, problems, and accomplishments. Topics include the experience of the U.S. classroom (the comparative informality of it, customs around class participation, and even eating/drinking inside the classroom as accepted practices); student residential life; making friends with students who do not share their culture or language; encountering prejudice; and strategies for adapting to one’s new environment.


Succeeding as an International Student in the United States and Canada,  Lipson, GoodmanSucceeding as an International Student in the United States and Canada by Charles Lipson (2008). This is an American professor’s how-to guide designed to help international students make the most of their study abroad experience. It offers practical advice on how to secure a visa, what to pack and what to leave behind, how to secure housing, the first ten things to do upon arrival in a host country, and useful guidance on how to succeed academically in classrooms in the U.S. and Canada. Some of the advice seems geared toward wealthier international students, as it directs incoming international students to bring $2,000.00 in traveler’s checks, and some of the references (to bringing a Blackberry and an iPod) date the volume’s advice to technology of yesteryear.


Cross-Cultural Narratives: Stories and Experiences of International Students  by Ravichandran Ammigan, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®Cross-Cultural Narratives: Stories and Experiences of International Students, edited by Ravichandran Ammigan (2021). This book features international student stories from the University of Delaware, including a graduate student from Ghana who appreciates the mentorship from her professors and the organization and quality of equipment in the lab where she conducts research, but is shocked by how brazenly undergraduates “talk back” to professors who teach them. Other stories describe the difficulty of acclimating to American food, including a German student’s surprise at the taste of American bread purchased from Walmart and the challenge of understanding colloquial English, as a Russian student encounters with her American roommate.


Amazon - Understanding the International Student Experience (Universities  into the 21st Century): Montgomery, Catherine: 9781403986191: BooksUnderstanding the International Student Experience by Catherine Montgomery (2010). This book aims to help those who work in higher education, or those who study higher education, to understand the “social and academic experience” of international students. The author studies the social networks of international students in the UK and the impact of the social network on their learning experience. The author concludes that international students build strong social groups in their host country and (concurrently) demonstrate fierce independence, breaking away from these groups at times to travel solo and even to form different social groups at will. The international students she studies also perceive themselves to be more mature than the students they encounter in their host country; this comparison, along with incidents of prejudice in the host country, sometimes impedes the formation of friendships between international students and students living in the host country.


Improving Library Services in Support of International Students and English  as a Second Language Learners – ACRL InsiderImproving Library Services in Support of International Students and English as a Second Language Learners, edited by Leila June Rod-Welch (2019). This is a collection of individual articles by different authors on subjects pertaining to library services as they relate to international students and ESL students. Each article stresses a different theme. In “Talking about the ‘Culture Bump’: Using Student Voices to Increase Cultural Sensitivity of Library and University Staff,” authors Olga Hart and Carol Olauson describe a panel presentation by international students, educating library staff about the difficulties and prejudices they have encountered. Other essays include “Let’s Travel the World Together via the Library”; “The Diversity and Global Engagement Exposition”; and “Libraries as Cultural Crossroads.”


5 Titles is directed by the Research & Instructional Services (RIS) Department at Duke University Libraries.

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