Communication Tips From an International Student

Communication Tips From an International Student

August 22, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


– My time overseas it was in some ways one of the most challenging times for me. And, in many ways, it was
one of the most rewarding. It was a challenge. I studied in Germany. And I actually had to learn German in an intense course
when I went over there. And, it was a great experience. I remember the shock of
coming to a different culture and looking for other people
like me that spoke English, that I could do with that. What I remembered was, really taking risks and getting to know other
people was very valuable. I also learned from some of my mistakes and I think, one of the biggest mistakes that I made when I was over there, and I see a lot of our
international students do the same thing that I did, is when you get into
a conversation in your host country’s language,
they get talking very fast and they’ll ask you, “did you understand?” And I remember as a student, not wanting to feel like I was dumb, so I’d say, “yah, yah.” That was German, in English
that’s a “yes, yes.” I got it. And one of those times
was when I was getting my student ID, and what they
had asked, what I know now, was did you check all the
information thoroughly? And I didn’t understand what they said, so I said, “yah.” And I got my ID and I
was a Chinese student. And then I had to go back
and I had to apologize and it actually took several
weeks to get that out. And what I learned,
what I should have said, is to try to repeat what I understood. Because I got part of what they said. And it’s one of the things I tell students who are coming from other countries, is here at Purdue, in
Indiana, in the Midwest part of the United States, people
are generally friendly. And it’s okay if somebody
says “Did you understand what we said?” Say, “I think so, can I
just repeat back what I think you said?” And that will save you
as a student, the trauma, like I had, of having to go
back and have your student ID reclassified to your proper. The other mistake that
I remember making is I loved finding other
students that spoke my native language, English. And, so, what I did is I
used that for a crutch, and what happened then is
my German didn’t as good as it could’ve. And I think it’s natural
for us as human beings to want to be like other people like us. And it was easier for me to speak English. And I see students, whatever
native language you have, that’s the easiest language we have. My suggestion for students
is when you get with your friends, make an
agreement that on certain days you will speak your native language cause that’s part of who we are. And there’s a connection
and a feeling of ease when I can talk to other
people in my native language. But let’s also agree that
on certain days we’re only going to speak English. Because what that’s gonna
do is, that’s gonna get our English better and
when we come into class it’s gonna help us do better in class because we’ve sharpened our English. And that is, if I think
back, the thing I would have changed the most when I was
an international student, that would have been it.