Starting your academics can be a wonderful experience as you acquire new knowledge, meet new people, learn about others and themselves, and form lasting friendships. At the same time, it can be difficult for transitioning as you are leaving one part of life and getting in another.
For international students transitioning can be more complex. How colleges and universities manage this situation can have a significant and lasting impact on students’ mental and well being.
In this blog, we have discussed the ways students can take help and guidance from the sources that are available around them.
Students face pressures maintaining and accommodating to basic needs while they also face challenges in academics for performing well. Adjusting to the new social environment, peer pressure, financial conditions, homesickness, new teaching methods, geographical, language barriers are among the many factors that can impact the students’ mental and physical well being. Let’s take a look at the measures that institutes can take for their upkeep.
1. Prepare students from an early stage, for practical and cultural changes. Guide them for maintaining good mental health and help them when needed
From a very early stage, students can be prepared before the move. Parent-students sessions are taken in advance, sharing the experience of those already studying abroad. Summer schools or pre-orientation sessions are given to international students before the actual beginning of the classes. Students are prepared to cope with things such as fee payments, paying the bills, registering for the healthcare, adjusting with their peers, adjusting to the climate and culture.
Many schools are doing a good deed in preparing students for their move to an international destination. They guide students on issues such as identity, resisting peer pressure, and seeking help from the international office when needed.
2. Implement effective transitions programs and embed them throughout in students’ life
Many universities take on orientation programs for international students. They guide students with academic and practical issues and focus less on mental health and well being. Universities mainly include workshops that focus on immigration career planning, host family programs, and cultural interaction programs.
Orientation programs need to be built around so that students can manage their transition, maintain their identity, race, and culture. Institutions are focusing on the exchange of students from one to another. For supporting the mental health concern, student exchange is exercised, which gives a basic idea of living and adjusting in a new place.
3. Keep a check on the emotional needs and balance of students
Students face a sudden change of emotions, and some cannot express these. Some find it really difficult to reach support. For dealing with such cases, support units are formed where members are trained to be in touch with new arrivals. It has been found in 30% of international students who do not come finding help despite the requirement. At times the stress levels reach so high to the point of suicide. The pressure of performing and managing life takes its toll on many international students. For managing stress and situations, students are tutored, and seminars are organized which teach and discuss the ways of dealing with complex situations.
At times even cases of bullying and harassment come forth. These are some issues that affect the mental level. Students in most of the cases remain silent with the fear of being manhandled by the peers of bullies. Now seeing such issues intensity, universities have regular counseling sessions for the new students asking them about the situations where they describe their faced difficulties.
Associating in the culture and environment are certain concerns for the universities. Staff members are trained in identifying students who are facing a situation where they are not mentally prepared and lead to mental traumas. Teachers are asked to create an eco-system where the fresh arrival students feel welcomed and cared for.
Most of all, schools and universities have to come forward and openly discuss the ease where students looking to study abroad can tell their mental issues without hesitation and fear. It has been found that 37% of the students never reveal the problem that they face. Therefore schools need to train students before the transition to speak for their own good.
At times problems such as depression and anxiety are not reported and turn acute. For the management of such matters as the mental well being greater cooperation is needed amongst the schools and higher education institutes. If students are unhappy in the new place, universities must provide timely counsel and ask about their problems. It is then only when learning and dwelling in a new land can happen.
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