It can be challenging to adjust to a new life abroad while dealing with academic and peer pressure, financial needs, study commitments, work responsibilities and more. Since your life in your new country will be remarkably different from your home country, you may sometimes feel overburdened, stressed and homesick. Know that it’s okay to feel down – it happens to everyone. Here are some tips that will help you deal with stress effectively.
Common causes of stress among students studying abroad
|Most Indian students face a ‘culture shock’ when they go abroad as there is a huge difference between the culture and the way things are done inside and outside India. Since they are mentally groomed in a way, it can get a little stressful trying to handle it on your own.
|Moving away from your family and friends to a completely unfamiliar environment can make you feel homesick. This is quite normal; many students go through this phase and often feel lonely, sad, anxious or even demotivated. You may also feel the urge to go back home or even be unsure that you don’t belong there.
|Lack of trust
|Being in a new country also brings hesitation to interact with people, make friends, express opinions and more!
|Academic obligations and work responsibilities
|Unfamiliar academic environments, curricula and study styles can be challenging for international students. Add to that, part-time work responsibilities to meet financial needs can cause students a lot of stress
|Burden of new independence
|The burden of managing a range of new responsibilities, such as combating language barriers, finding the right accommodation and roommates, paying rent, arranging household chores and combining studies, also weighs on many students.
Here’s how to deal with these stressors:
1.Stay socially connected in your host country
Build your local support network or exchange stories with other international students who share similar experiences. Use social networking sites/apps to find international student groups, or people in your city who share similar hobbies.
2. Reach out to friends, family, and/or personal support networks
Talk to someone close and familiar. Attempt:
- Scheduling weekly/monthly Skype sessions with family or friends
- Travel and send postcards home
- Write emails or letters
- Turn off social media for a while
- Participate in student communities
- Keeping up with a busy schedule
- Meet new people
- Be open to new experiences
- Travel and explore with new friends
3. Exercise regularly, eat healthy and take care of yourself
Poor eating habits and lack of sleep are also known to cause stress. So eat nutritious meals and rest well. Try to cook your meals at home instead of eating out or eating takeout often. Exercise improves both physical and mental health. Make sure to stay active by walking/running, swimming or working out at the gym. Meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises can also help you stay calm and composed.
4. Get to know your new city
Do your best to get to know your new environment and what’s happening in your host city. Familiarizing yourself will make you feel more connected and less of an outsider. If you were a member of a club/church/group at home, find out what your new neighbor has to offer. Do a little research where you live and find a few places you should explore — the best coffee shops in town, favorite venues for local street performers, or all the different places to go for a walk. Make a list of these places or activities and challenge yourself to do/see them all before you leave.
5. Get a pet
Studies have shown how spending time with a pet can significantly improve your mood and lower your stress levels. When you have a pet around, your body releases happy hormones and you stay positive. If your university or landlord won’t allow you to keep one, you can spend time with domestic students who have one.
6. Talk to others about how you feel
There’s no shame in being homesick. It happens to almost everyone. Seek help from a professional if you need extra support to overcome your stress. Various people and organizations offer support to people with psychological problems. You can also contact your university’s student support center, which often has specialists such as counselors and advisors who can help you manage stress.
7. Vent and express your feelings
If you’re too shy to express your feelings to someone, start keeping a journal and air it all out. You can write poems, stories or even indulge in creative art forms like painting to express yourself.
HELPLINES AND CONSULTATION
- Lifeline-13 11 14
- Suicide Callback Service – 1300 659 467
- Beyond Blue -1300 22 46 36
- Free space – 1800 650 890
- Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 in Auckland
- Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
- Healthline – 0800 611 116
- Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email email@example.com or online chat
- thelowdown.co.nz – or email firstname.lastname@example.org or toll free text 5626
- Nightline – Check the Nightline website to see if your university or college offers a nighttime listening service. Nightline operators are also all students.
- If you are studying in Wales you can contact the Community Advice and Listening Line (CALL) on 0800 123 737 or text ‘help’ to 81066. These services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
- Samaritans – toll free number is 116 123, or you can email email@example.com.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 800-273-8255.
Online chat services
- Lifeline crisis chat
- Crisis text line (on your smartphone)
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- I’m alive