Studying abroad brings many positive benefits to international students. But it can bring tremendous stress to them as well. These students need to adjust to a new curriculum, new ways of learning, a new language, a new home, a new society, and a new culture.
Add to these the stress of being away from family and friends and living alone for the first time.
It is not surprising, therefore, for many students to be physically and emotionally stressed.
Some manage to be resilient and find a good method to deal with their stress. Some turn to university professors and staff for support.
Fighting racism and discrimination
This year, international students have an additional stressor. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak has made everyone afraid. An offshoot of this fear is discrimination against Chinese and other international students of Asian descent.
Although there has been no news of riots or violence, these international students feel the “chill” of being ignored or avoided by their peers.
Many universities are concerned about this issue. To help their students through these trying times, some universities are implementing measures to show their support.
Greenville University (GU) will allow its residence halls to remain open during Spring break. Staff from its Office of International Affairs provide emotional support particularly to Chinese students who have been personally affected by the outbreak. There are activities like movie nights lined up for students who will remain on campus during the break.
Beyond these measures, the university is also showing support for China by getting medical supplies shipped to the country.
The microcosm of the classroom
Within classrooms, professors have different roles. Among these roles are they teach, mentor, and provide support.
Sometimes, though, professors do not know how to interact with international students.
Dr. Stefanie Baier, Michigan State University’s curriculum development director, shares the following advice:
Dr. Baier gives this final advice: foster connections between local and international students.
Perhaps through these measures and tips, people will remember that international students go through many stressful moments and need support from their educational communities, now more than ever.
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