More commonly known as The Land of Opportunity, The United States of America attracts thousands of immigrants each year, in their pursuit of higher education, employment prospects, and better living standards. The influx of Nepalese students into the USA has particularly been rocketing due to the political instability, lack of career opportunities and inadequate educational prospects in the Himalayan country.
Nepal may be overflowing with natural beauty and cultural heritage, but when it comes to higher education, the country offers its natives limited opportunities and career pathways. Despite the difficult living conditions and financial struggles that Nepalese students face as an international student in the USA, an increasing number of Nepalese students head to the United States each year in their quest to discover the land of opportunities through their golden period in life.
A Nepalese student's struggle to study in the US begins with the college application and student visa process. The challenging process calls for arranging academic transcripts and references, showing a reassuring bank statement, and acquiring impressive SAT, TOEFL, and GRE scores, sponsor letters, and accommodation arrangements. Many students find it a tall order to get all documentation in order and pass the thorough investigations and interviews conducted by the US border agency before a student visa is granted.
The basic idea of travelling and living in a new country, let alone a whole new continent, proves to be overwhelming for many Nepalese students. The language barriers, jet lag, climatic changes, and home sickness becomes overpowering for many students aspiring to live the American dream. Colleges and universities in the USA use American English as their primary language for communication and academic purpose which becomes a potential limitation for many non-native English speakers. Language limitations make academic progress, particularly difficult and frustrating for Nepalese students as they are unable to fully understand the different accent and consequently lag behind in class participation. The language barrier also adds to the workload as Nepalese students are not easily able to communicate their academic issues to their counselors and continue to struggle on their own. Many students, who used to be academic stars in Nepal, get particularly de-motivated and depressed owing to a decline in their performance.
Living in America comes with its share of financial difficulties. Unless they belong to an elite family background, Nepalese students face an enduring economic struggle to finance their tuition and make their ends meet. Students living in popular academic destinations like New York and California are compelled to work extra hours to survive amidst their high living standards. Most of the Nepalese students living in these popular cities work for extra long hours at gas pumps, grocery stores, restaurants and shops. Maintaining American living standards is not easy, and foreign students are even restricted by the United States visa policy on the number of hours they can work as a student."
Long shifts and weekend work hours not only exhaust the students mentally and physically; but also make it a tough ordeal to maintain a good GPA. While Nepalese students struggle to sustain themselves through the academic and financial pressures, their families back home keep their hopes and expectations high.
New York based journalist, Kishor Panthi, Founder/editor in chief of Khasokhas Weekly, a Nepalese newspaper published in New York said, "Parents should maintain a serious stance about their children's studies in the USA, and extend their moral support to them. They should realize that students come to America to study rather than to work and abstain from pressurizing them with their expectations. Unfortunately, students are compelled to work extra hours because their parents and siblings expect them to be able to get them expensive electronic stuff like MacBooks, iPhones, and digital cameras."
The struggle of Nepalese students does not end with their student life. Even after completing an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, most overseas students find it extremely difficult to find employment in America. The student visa does not expand into a post-study work permit, as a result of which Nepalese students are bound to leave the United States once they complete their programs.
Several organizations like The American Nepal Education Foundation (ANEF) and the Worldwide Nepalese Students' Organization (WNSO) are working to facilitate Nepalese students in the US. The ANEF especially aims to provide financial relief to deserving students in the form of student loans, financial grants and merit-based scholarships. On the other WNSO provides first hand information on US universities, curriculum, career prospects, student experiences and the lifestyle to help Nepalese students make the most out of their academic journey in The Land of Opportunity.