Being an international student is stressful. Sparking up conversation with other students is nerve wracking and the time difference is making it hard to Skype your friends and family back home. Plus, you’ve got a backlog of deadlines, exams looming and back-to-back lectures. And the library is never quiet enough to study in! Suffering from stress is completely normal as a student, as long as you know how to combat it.
Identifying the signs of stress
It’s not always easy to identify the signs of stress or if you’re suffering with mental health problems. It could be you’re not sleeping well or you’re lacking an appetite.
Trivial things might be frustrating, and you feel like you’re losing your temper a lot. Perhaps it’s because people keep mispronouncing your name or you’re struggling to understand someone’s accent clearly.
Academic concerns are a huge factor in aggravating stress and could mean that you’re having trouble concentrating or paying attention. You might be missing lectures because you’re finding education in a second language difficult.
Maybe you’re finding it difficult to fit in or finding it hard to find food you like. You could be overcome with sadness and homesickness because you miss your friends, family and the sights, smells and sounds of home.
Or perhaps you feel disconnected from other students because you keep getting lost around campus and you’re not too fond of going out drinking. You want to start making global friends, but don’t know what to talk about when you speak to British students.
If you feel like you’re stressed, anxious or don’t know how to deal with depression then don’t be afraid to seek help and speak to someone.
What to do?
Think positive and break the silence. Most universities offer specific support for international students as they understand the elevated problems you might be facing. If you’re unsure of who to ask or where to go, then speak to your tutor, student services or the student union.
It’s always nice to have someone to talk to, and us Brits love a cup of tea and a chat! Try and make friends with people on your course or in your halls. If you’re struggling with stress it often helps to speak to other students as they’re probably suffering from the same kinds of things. Joining a sports team, student society or getting involved in volunteering can help with making friends and homesickness. Alternatively, lots of universities run Global Cafes giving you the chance to have a coffee morning with other international students.
Why not get in touch with HOST UK? They organise stays with host families, so you can experience life with a British family. It’s a perfect way to integrate into a new cultural that might be daunting or frightening.
Reach out to your universities chaplaincy for support in any situation. Their Multi-Faith teams will be able to guide and support you.
Remember it’s important to look after yourself. Taking time out to focus on you is vital. Make sure you’re eating healthy, regularly exercising and getting enough sleep. Maybe try meditating as it’s a wonderful way to clear your mind and helps you to focus clearly.
Watching English TV and films, recording lecturers, or partnering with someone for informal conversations can help breaking down language barriers. Why sit down and share cooking with your housemates?
Find Out More
Thursday 1st March 2018 is University Mental Health Day and campuses around the country are putting on events to raise awareness and provide support and assistance.
Student Minds is dedicated to student mental health and run support groups across many campuses.
Nightline offers someone to talk to in complete confidence online or over the phone. Sometimes all you need is a chat! They can, in some instances, find someone to speak to you in your mother language.