Fulfilling the dream of pursuing higher education in one of the several universities of international repute in the UK is a dream chased by millions of students across the world. It takes immense degree of hard work, undivided focus, and determination to transform the dream into a reality. However, securing admissions in a British university is barely the end of the battle but just the beginning.
As an international student, it involves adapting to a lot of changes and challenges. At times, it takes a toll on their mental and emotional well-being. It is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed, dejected, demotivated and at times, even depressed by all the changes. They say change is the only constant. However, adaptability to changes hugely varies from individual to individual. While some are quick to blend into the new, others might struggle with the same. And it is perfectly fine to take one’s time.
Moving into a new country and making a home out of it is an enormous life changing event. Adapting to the new culture, lifestyle, climate etc. can be stressful. Seeking suitable accommodation, managing university schedules, making new friends, and blending into the new environment could seem to be a bit challenging. Most students also suffer from a syndrome called ‘home sickness’ and harbors plans to leave their academic course midway and relocate to their home country. But the good news is, it is perfectly normal to feel a bit overwhelmed when you are trying to adjust yourself into a completely unfamiliar territory, especially in the initial few months.
As much as academics are important, so are physical and mental wellbeing. While physical distress is easy to recognize and even easier to find a cure, most often we fail to identify the mental stressors that are affecting our lives. As students, it is important to be acutely aware of your mental well being and at any point in time, if you feel that you require support, help must be sought out. The first step towards mental and emotional wellbeing is acknowledging that you need some support. Reaching out for help is more than half the battle won.
Most universities in the UK have their own Health and Wellness Centers. Trained counsellors help students navigate through the challenges that a student might face in adjusting to the new environment. Counsellors usually take a couple of sessions to understand the concerns of the student and suggest them coping strategies to overcome their challenges. Depending on the complexity of the situations, students might also be referred to specialized professionals like a psychiatrist to help them better adapt to the new circumstances. Students can also choose to reach out to one of their course directors, the International Students Support Team or anyone they are comfortable in confiding in to.
There are several factors that act as detriments in seeking help. The most important amongst them being the fear of stigma. Students usually shy away or try to brush the issue under the carpet, hoping to either manage things on their own or the problems to magically disappear! It must be borne in mind that there is absolutely no shame or stigma in reaching our for assistance while you try to blend yourself into your new life. Instead of waging a lonely battle that might only further add weight to your mental well-being, it is always highly recommended to seek out help – the sooner, the better!
It is imperative that universities also keep a close watch on student’s wellbeing. Attendance, course evaluation, 1:1 student-professor meetings must be used as indicators to gauge the students coping skills and general well-being.
Above all, it is important for students to never lose focus of their goal. It is very important to develop a strong willpower and conviction to face all the challenges that the new life has to offer. It is important to see its obstacle as a learning experience and a milestone towards greater success. Talking to a peer, socializing with groups that have similar interests, maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise are a few of the things that can help in managing your emotions.
The idea is to never give up! Seek help , if needed but there is absolutely no quitting.