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Studying Abroad? Be prepared for these 5 challenges

Excited about migrating to another country in order to pursue your dreams regarding your education? Change always feels good. However, the transitory period is never easy. So while you pack your bags and fascinate about how it would be like in that foreign college, make sure you prepare yourself for a period of utter bewilderment as you try to adapt to the new surroundings.

Here are a few common challenges faced by most students who go abroad in order to pursue their college education. It will be a good idea to keep these in mind and develop your defenses against these issues before catching that flight into the unknown world.

Cultural Disparities

Every country has its own culture. So if you are headed off to a foreign university, be prepared to experience a wholly different set of values, customs and traditions that might be in total contradiction with your own. It is better to research about the cultural principles at your destination beforehand. This does not only inform you about what to expect during your stay there, it will also prevent you from making embarrassing blunders due to lack of knowledge.

The Freshman 15

Do you love food or try to experiment with it? A foreign land is the perfect opportunity to take your taste buds on a roller coaster ride.

Most foreign colleges offer buffet meals within its premises. If you are not accustomed to such an organization, this may prove to be quite intimidating for you. However, it has been observed that most people – regardless of their origin – tend to gain about fifteen pounds of weight in their first year at a foreign college. Blame the food or the freedom; unless you are going to be careful from the first day, you are more likely to end up in the same category as others experiencing “the Freshman 15 syndrome”.

Socializing

Some people have good people skills, some do not. If you fall into the latter category, be prepared for the loneliest time of your life as you begin college!

In a country where you are already faced with numerous challenges while trying to adjust to the foreign climate, making new friends and socializing with others may contribute towards your problems – especially if you are an introvert. The best way to go about this problem is to practice talking to random people in your own country. This will make you a little less hesitant while interacting with people in a foreign land.

The Breathtaking Curricula

When you are done managing other factors, you are left with the core reason you are in a foreign college – academics. A foreign college automatically translates into a unique curriculum that you may never have imagined pursuing at any point in life.

New subjects, professors and projects multiply your stress by a considerable amount considering they all come in at the same time. There is no shortcut or an easy way out of this situation. You simply have to go with the flow and try to get the most out of it. This is where your mental preparation for pressure plays a role in delivering the desired results.

Depression/Homesickness

The first few days are always the trickiest. You may start to feel lonely, depressed, and homesick and a number of other emotions that emerge as a reflex to your stress. You may even question the sanity of your decision as you trudge along day and night in hope to find some support to get you through your gloomy days.
The best thing about it is it eventually does end. It may take a few days, weeks or months; but at some point you begin to feel at home. The only thing you can do is wait it out patiently and try to help yourself by making friends and socializing.
You will face problems only as long as you are in the learning phase. With time, it turns out to be better than expected!

Mental Health Issues and the College Student

College can be very tough, especially for students who are just starting out. Adjusting to a more demanding schedule and tougher schoolwork is not easy for many of them. Also having to adjust to new environment, city or even country can all lead to adjustment issues. Some students simply cannot cope with the stress of college. These students end up with mental health issues due to their failure to adjust to college life. Research has shown that some students enter college already dealing with mental health problems. Many of them are unaware that they have these issues.

Causes of Mental Health Problems

New college students will have many new experiences with the first few months. They will meet a lot of new people and probably have to live with a roommate they are meeting for the first time. This will give them a look at different cultures and lifestyles. Not every student is ready to deal with this type of situation. A student who does not handle this new environment well could become depressed.

When you enter college you will have to change the way you think. This comes not only from being around new people, but also from being on your own. You have to develop your own identity and gain a sense of independence. If you are not ready for this, it could be a strain on your mental health. You will have problems focusing in class and if you get poor grades, it could cause further anxiety or depression.

Some college students simply feel that they are not up to the challenge of handling the pressures of college life. However, this kind of doubt will affect their performance in class and their ability to complete assignments. Some students also have to deal with the additional pressure placed on them by their parents to do well. If they feel like they have not lived up to these expectations, depression could set it.

Getting Help

Each year college counselors see many students who are coping with anxiety and depression.  Students who have mental health issues prior to attending college should choose schools with a good health facility.  Look at the size of the counseling center and the number of staff members. Find out what steps the school will take if a student has a mental breakdown.

It is important to understand that there is no shame in seeking help for mental health problems. Some students feel embarrassed to admit that they feel depressed and avoid seeking help. Not asking for help will only make the problem worse. Friends and roommates should also be aware of signs of depression so that they can report their concerns to college counselors.

It is important to understand the potential mental health issues, and what steps can be taken to deal with them. Ways to cope with added stress include getting enough sleep, eating properly and getting adequate exercise. It is also important to avoid too much alcohol. Developing good coping skills is also an important part of dealing with college life.

Most colleges have their own support structure for students who may be having problems in school. Talking to a counselor is a good way to deal with many issues that arises. These professionals are usually highly trained, and can tell if a student needs more professional help. Anxiety and depressions are the two most commonly seen mental health issues among college students. Being able to identify and treat with these problems early, makes it easier to overcome them.

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