International Students in US: Case Study


Group Project

UX Research



Different International Students at TJU face different challenges adjusting to a new environment, culture, and climate. These difficulties are caused by a variety of elements of their college experience and collectively impact their mental well-being.


Saqlain Sheikh

Masters Student


23 years old

Saqlain is exploring a new world, striving for success in design, while wrestling with homesickness, cultural adjustments, and the pursuit of opportunities that align with her dreams


Back home, Saqlain was a student of Computer Science. He had always had a passion for design. He moved to the US because there weren't many educational opportunities in India in the field of UX Design.


Saqlain dislikes eating American food and is not used to preparing his own meals.

He occasionally has problems understanding the accent of Americans.

Never travelled far from home


Academic Support: Requires assistance with his studies in order to succeed. The format of the assignments and projects was significantly different from that of his native country.

Cultural Differences: Adapting to the new culture and academic environment has been a significant challenge for Saqlain, affecting their overall well-being and academic performance.

Financial Needs: Financial constraints are an ongoing issue for Saqlain, impacting their ability to fully cover her tuition and living expenses.

Homesickness: Homesickness has been a major barrier in Saqlain’s experience.

Participation: Has not been able to participate in any of TJU’s Culture Exchange Programs like Garba Event, Halloween Party, Volleyball clubs, etc

Career Anxiety: He attended TJU’s college career fair, but found few opportunities in his desired role.

Ecem Akın

Undergrad Student


20 years old

Ecem is navigating a new world, striving for success in s sher studies and career while juggling language barriers, financial strains, and a longing for connection and support


Ecem always aimed to design the environment/building she lived in for sher own purposes and design philosophy. Since job opportunities after graduation were limited in Turkey, she moved to USA for sher education considering sher future. She predicted that she would thus have more job opportunities.


She is experiencing personal difficulties due to academic pressure.

Accommodation support is insufficient for sher.

She is feeling socially lonely.

Personally, she had time management difficulties.

It was difficult for sher to get used to food in USA.

Sometimes she has safety problems.


Accommodation Support: On-campus accommodation feels like a prison. She has no choice, she has to get used to it.

Cultural Differences: Adapting to the new culture and food and human relationships was a significant challenge for Ecem and affected her overall well-being and mental health.

Academic Support: The schedule, homework and project formats in her home country were significantly different from that of USA.

Community Support: Sometimes she feels lonely and thinks that there is no one like her around.

Career Anxiety: Ecem, who thinks that she has difficulties to keep up with her hectic schedule, suspects that she may be academically inadequate.


Initially, our objective was to comprehensively understand how different facets of students' lives influence their overall experience at TJU. We evaluated the experiences of students based on different categories


Healthcare(mental & physical)


Safety & Security



Financial Management



Adaptation to Climate

After that, we would concentrate on addressing the issues that are more pressing, feasible, and being disregarded by the university.


Secondary Research

Articles, Research Papers related to Student

Healthcare, Adjustment to US Culture

The goal was to comprehend the wide range of issues that the university either assists students with or at the very least acknowledges and attempts to support

Surveys - Quantitative

24 Responses

The objective was to determine which aspect of college life do students struggle with more than the others

User Interviews

12 in Total

5 Undergrad &

7 Grad Students

Aim of the interviews was to gather Qualitative Data that could help us narrow down the challenges that we can work with

Ethnographic Research

Conducted in a classroom of Graduate & Undergraduate Students

To comprehend why students are enrolled in a given course, what they get out of it, and the general dynamics of the interactions between teachers and students


International Students’ Mental Health:

Students from other countries find it hard to know about mental health help.

They face language problems and feel worried about stigma.

They need better programs and understanding to feel okay asking for help.

International participation in clubs is low. This is likely due to a lack of awareness of club activities and events. Clubs should improve their marketing efforts to reach international students.

International students face a number of challenges, both on and off campus. These challenges include culture shock, financial differences, networking problems, and psychological issues. Clubs can play a role in helping international students to overcome these challenges.


The user survey and secondary research that we conducted on the student experience at TJU revealed a number of key findings.

Culture Shock: Many international students reported experiencing culture shock upon arriving at TJU. This was due to a variety of factors, including the food, financial constraints, cultural differences and the lifestyle. Based on surveys this number comes to 58.3%

Networking: Students expressed a desire to network with other students, but some reported feeling challenged in doing so. The most common networking resources used by students were career fairs and social events. Students found these resources to be somewhat effective, but there was a need for more support from TJU in helping students to build their social and professional networks. As per the surveys, of the networking resources used by the students, 58.3% found the resources somewhat effective.



Goal: Participate in a class at TJU that includes both graduate and undergraduate students, and evaluate the overall classroom experience.



Professor engages individually with each student every week.

Faculty actively discusses the project with the entire class.

Work Environment:

Students immersed in online-based research.

Observation of collaborative efforts in the classroom.


Class composition: 60% graduate students, 40% undergraduates.

Majority of undergraduates taking the course, with a focus on learning UX laws.

Insights & Collaboration Patterns

Frequency and Duration:

Two classes per week, each lasting four hours, which the students felt was too long for a class

Teaching Approach:

Faculty interaction not limited to lectures; active discussion and guidance.

Reviews reveal collaborative efforts, with grads assisting undergrads in group assignments which had mixed reviews.

Weekly Activities:

Regular presentation format: Students pick and present a design firm's contributions.

Weekly project reviews to track progress.

Course Preference:

Most undergrads picked course by choice.

Some grads had to pick this course due to the unavailability of other desired course


Interviewees: 7 grads and 5 undergrads international students

Goal: To collect information about the academic, cultural, social, food-related, career, transportation, and healthcare aspects of international students' lives at TJU

Do you find any differences between your country and the US regarding how things are done?

What does your typical meal look like, back in your home country?

How was your experience looking for accommodation in the US?

Have you tried/have applied for any internships/jobs in the US?





Education here is vastly different. Its more organised and you learn specific things. In India, its more broad.

TJU can improve the food served on campus by incorporating needs of international students.

Food & Transportation affects me a lot personally and its a big challenge for me


Mental Health



No one gets it! What we go through! As International students

Lonliness. In Turkey, I always had friends and family around me, but in here, I need to do everything by myself.

Between pepper-spray and a gun, I know that Gun will win


#1 Mental Health of Female Students

Female students faced greater mental health challenges, expressing difficulty coping with stress and social interactions, with one student notably distressed during the interview.

Recommendation: Implement gender-specific mental health support programs and on-campus resources tailored to female students' needs to address stress, social challenges, and foster a supportive environment.

I am 18 and I'm living without my parents, without anyone, without knowing anyone, I'm doing everything on my own. It’s tough.


#2 Lack of Proper Communication Challenges

Insufficient communication leaves international students isolated from campus events. Diverse communication methods like social media are vital for inclusive engagement.

Recommendation: Improve outreach strategies and platforms to ensure international students receive timely and comprehensive information about campus events.

#3 Cultural Adjustments

International students face challenges in adapting with the cultural practices of the new country, school affecting their social interactions and sense of belonging.

Recommendation: Organize more inclusive events that celebrate diverse cultures, encouraging cross-cultural engagement and understanding.

#4 Limited Career Support

The job opportunities and career services for TJU students, particularly international ones, fall short, lacking adequate support and ample employment prospects.

Recommendation: Organize industry-specific workshops, career fairs, or networking events targeted toward international students, facilitating career growth and job placement.




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