international student life

international student

How colleges help reduce stress for international students.

by developing Personal Growth Initiative, hardiness and Universal Diverse Orientation.

When international students come to the US, they often face a challenging and stressful situation. When they first come, they will need to find affordable transport and housing, adjust to new climate, learn to communicate in English, or if they know English, like most do, learn how to reduce their foreign accent so they can be understood and also work in unfamiliar education system.

They also may become homesick and isolated, have difficulty reaching out to American peers, deal with different culture and cope with ethnic, racial and religious discrimination. All these problems faced by international students may leave them feeling insecure and uneasy.

They often result in one having Acculturative Stress, a disorientation that one feels when they are in a cross cultural transition. The Symptoms of Acculturative stress may include one feeling lonely, sad, fearful, homesick, being withdrawn socially and depression.

To counter the effect of Acculturative stress, Colleges and international student counselors advise international students to rely on their Personal and Multicultural strengths to help reduce stress and help them adjust better to the new environment.

They are also advised to be persistent when facing cultural and interpersonal challenges and also develop a sense of optimism. They are also advised to be proactive and initiate contacts with American peers, join on campus activities, practice their English and learn about American Cultural Norms and practices.

The students are also advised to develop a Personal Growth Initiative, a conscious striving to develop and improve themselves and their lives in all its domains. They should consciously work to develop their talents and abilities by planning, being ready to change and seeking outside resources to help develop themselves.

These qualities help a person experience lower levels of stress and achieve better psychological adjustment in different social settings. They are able to reduce stress because they can better reframe challenges as growth opportunities and this leads to lower levels of stress.

International students are also advised to become Hardy and adopt an overall attitude of optimism, persistence and strength. Hardiness is the ability to prosper and thrive under conditions of strain.

People who are more Hardy are better able to cope with stress situations. This occurs because a hardy person is able to understand environmental stressors with more positivity and activate action oriented strategies for reducing stress.

Another characteristic that is often encouraged among International students is the ability to appreciate cultural similarities and differences. This characteristic is known as Universal-Diverse Orientation. It is the general appreciation of cultural diversity. Universal Diverse orientation is defined as a general attitude towards all people which is inclusive yet differentiating and that similarities and differences are both recognized and accepted.

International students with a more developed Universal Diverse Orientation are better adjusted in a cross cultural environment and experience less acculturative stress. This is because they are more able to make cross cultural friendships with American peers, able to join clubs and activities and hence learn more about American Culture and this will help them acquire cultural knowledge and social support that will help them succeed.

All these principles are used by international student advisors and counselors who work with international students to help them recognize their personal and cultural strengths and how to use these strengths to reduce acculturative stress and achieve adjustment in the United States.