Navigating an International Classroom | CityBlock

Ordering the wrong drink at the pub, getting lost because you didn’t understand the directions given, insulting a teacher on your first day…

This is the predicament of many students in universities all over the world. While most are preparing for the new term or year with the usual anxiety that comes from knowing a ton of academic workload is coming their way, another group of students has an additional source of worry to stress over…

After all, an international classroom brings many benefits for everyone, but can also have its challenges. Not only are international students learning new subjects, but they’re reading, writing and listening to them in a language different from the one they grew up with.

For many, studying in their country is not an option, as the course they want is not available there. So they embark on a journey that will take them to a different culture and language – and will challenge them in a way they never thought possible.

 You Misunderstand Someone

‘Embarrassed’ gains a new meaning if you come from Spain… the word ‘embarazada’ may seem similar but means something else all-together: pregnant.

This is a common problem with learning in a second language. It’s easy to misunderstand a phrase or expression but, before getting upset or offended, take a moment to think about what was said – or ask if you have any doubts!

Equally, your friends, classmates and teachers can also misunderstand or be offended at something you say, as you’re likely to use expressions they haven’t heard before.

Everyone’s Talking, But You Don’t About What

When people are talking in their mother tongue, they talk fast. You do the same when you’re speaking yours, no matter if it’s English, Italian, Russian, Greek… so when you’re listening to your teachers or classmates, it can sometimes become confusing to try and understand everything.

You’ll miss things, which is natural, but it quickly becomes annoying when you miss important information or even jokes. It makes you feel even more like an outsider, no matter how amazing and welcoming everyone around you is.

You Can’t Speak at the Speed of Your Thoughts

Contributing to class is expected of you. It can become frustrating, however, when your mouth is slower than your brain! When trying to ask a question or give an answer in class, not being able to speak with the fluency you desire can be maddening…

However, quitting is definitely not an option, no matter how exasperated you feel. Practice makes perfect, and the more you speak in your second language the easier it will be in the future. Start now – your future self will thank you!

Accents, the Bane of Your Existence

All countries have regional accents and, while you might be quick to identify yours, when you’re studying in another country you may find yourself having difficulty understanding people. Some accents will be easier than others, and the best way to understand them all is to be exposed to them.

This way you can train your brain to recognise them effortlessly!

You Have to Focus Harder

Studying can be hard, but it’s doubly so when you’re doing it in your second language. You may encounter words and phrases you don’t recognise, you may have to read the same sentence twice to truly catch its meaning, and so forth. Still, the accomplishment you’ll feel at having a great mark in an exam is worth all the sweat and, which is more than likely, tears.

Even though learning in a second language can be difficult, it’s certainly not impossible and you should never stop yourself from following your dreams because of it. Many students around the world are achieving success in their second language, and you won’t be the exception!

Here at CityBlock we can at least take the stress out of finding the right accommodation. We achieved 90% of satisfaction amongst international students in the National Student Housing Survey, and were the only one amongst eight other private hall providers to receive a quality mark accreditation for international accommodation.

We welcome everyone, however, international or not, so get in touch with a member of our friendly team and we’ll help you find the right place for you – and meet all of your needs, no matter what they are!

Posted on November 14th, 2016