International students commonly use friends and family as resources for news, find American news too generic

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EAST LANSING, Mich. — Some residents of the United States are well-informed about what’s happening, whether it’s concerning politics, social issues or more trivial information like celebrity gossip. 

We’re surrounded by news all the time. We can turn on the television, tune into one of many channels and obtain information. 

Or we can open Twitter, scroll to the News page and view the trending hashtags. 

Or we can open the app for a newspaper we’re subscribed to and learn what’s happening that way. 

We’re used to being knowledgeable, which makes it hard to believe that many international students have to work to find some of their news. 

International students come from countries thousands of miles away with different governments, policies and social constructs. 

The news that happens in the United States may matter to them, but in four years when some return home with a degree, they need to know what they’ve missed, what changes there were and what happened while they’ve been pursuing their education.

“American news displays everything happening in America,” senior Elementary Education major Xinwei Zou of China said. “News in China is filtered by the government.”

The way media in the United States presents information to its viewers is far different than the way media in many other countries do. 

“News in South Korea has so much specific information,” Michigan State University junior Jiyun Park of South Korea said. “You wonder why they include some of the information they do because it doesn’t matter. American news is very generic.”

Park, a zoology major, came to MSU because a former teacher told her about the quality of the program. 

Coming to Michigan was a culture shock for her. She said she felt as though being dropped off in East Lansing was similar to being left on an island with native people. 

“If I want to know what’s happening back home, I call my friends. They let me know,” Park said. “There’s also a phone app most Koreans use.” 

Apps are a common way for international students not only to communicate with loved ones, but to stay engaged with events and news happening back home.

“News is mainly provided with Facebook,” senior Nicholas Liang of Hong Kong said. “But WhatsApp is the mainstream social networking application for almost everyone in Hong Kong. Chinese students mostly use WeChat.” 

Sometimes the way information is obtained comes down to personal preference. 

Searching through hundreds of messages for a specific mention of an event can be frustrating.

“I’m not a big fan of news apps,” Liang said. “But some friends of mine do read the news app sometimes. I think families and friends would probably be the main sources.” 

Liang, a finance major, spent time in California and Nevada to work for his uncle’s business and attend a business conference rather than going home to Hong Kong last summer. 

He said being away from a college campus can make it harder to get news as some students get their news from other international students.

There are student organizations dedicated to specific groups of international students. These clubs provide a sense of community. Within these groups, similarities and information about back home are shared.

“Once I made other international student friends, I felt more in touch with home,” said Park, who belongs to the MSU Korean Student Association and Asian Pacific American Organization. “[They’re] really helpful during some national holidays too.” 

According to the Office for International Students and Scholars at MSU, there were 3,862 undergraduate international students enrolled in 2018. 10.2% of undergraduate students were international. 


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