Dealing with stress
Don't suffer in silence
When you’re studying abroad, it’s normal to feel a little stressed or homesick once in a while. Sometimes, you might feel you need a bit of extra help – and that’s okay. Some of the common areas that can cause some anxiety include:
- Academic demands
- Pressures balancing work and study commitments
- Financial difficulties
- Relationship problems
Compared with domestic students, international students were identified as being at higher risk due to extra challenges and stresses faced when living abroad, away from home (Forbes-Mewett & Sawyer).
With that in mind – let’s discuss mental health!
Common stresses faced by international students
In research conducted by Forbes-Mewett & Sawyer in Australia, international students were interviewed about the most common transitional stresses they faced whilst adjusting to life in their study home and many of these apply to all our study destinations:
Culture shock & off-campus living pressures:
Upon arrival, international students face ‘culture shock’ and a string of new responsibilities – including navigating language barriers, searching for accommodation, finding housemates, paying rent, learning to manage a household – not to mention studying!
Students also reported initial worries about English language barriers when making friends, voicing opinions during group assignments and/or utilising professional health-care services (due to fears about miscommunication).
Financial & academic pressures:
In addition to the financial pressures of budgeting and handling household finances, international students must adjust to unfamiliar academic environments, study styles and course-structures. Some students – especially those receiving financial support from home – reported feeling intense pressures to succeed or achieve academically whilst studying abroad. Students who reported feeling their academic work was ‘below expectation’ experienced higher levels of anxiety and depression (Forbes-Mewett & Sawyer), resulting in poorer academic performance.
Stay socially connected in your host country
Build your local support network or swap stories with other international students sharing similar experiences. Use social networking sites/apps like Meet Up to find international student groups, or people in your city who share similar hobbies.
Reach out to friends, family and/or personal support networks
Talk with someone close and trusted. Still, try not to contact home too often – you’ll want to focus on your current experiences as an international student too. Try:
- Scheduling weekly/monthly Skype sessions with family or friends
- Traveling and sending postcards back home
- Writing emails or letters
- Switching off social media for a whileBe open to new experiences
Exercise regularly, eat healthy and look after yourself
Exercise improves both physical and mental health – so stretch your legs. Eat nutritional meals. Rest well.
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