It is undeniable that you have your family to thank for who you are today. As an American, you may have assumed independence earlier than other people, but it is still mom and dad (or your acting guardians) who have done their best and sacrificed a lot to raise and provide for you.
The thought of becoming an exchange student overseas is generally thrilling for many. Not every scholar has an opportunity to study abroad and learn more about the subject matters they are interested in through foreign educators. It is a privilege to get chosen by the university to stay in their campus, albeit temporarily. Hence, you may waste no time to stuff your belongings in a suitcase or two and arrange your flight and accommodations immediately if you receive that kind of news.
Nonetheless, once the excitement wears off, that is typically when reality sets in. You will be thousands of miles away from friends and family members. If you wish to see them, you may only be able to do that via Skype or FaceTime. You may have to rely on your trip advisor for companionship for a while too, considering you still do not have a friend in the new university. Worse, the more you feel homesick or as if you do not belong in that environment, the more your mental health may suffer, to the extent that you develop adjustment disorder, anxiety, or depression.
In case you want to finish the term overseas without jeopardizing your psychological well-being, you should remember the following tips.
1. Don’t Cover Up The Problem
The first advice is to keep yourself from concealing your mental state to your loved ones back home or your contacts abroad. You do not wish to burden anyone – that is understandable. Despite that, your issues can never be bothersome to the people who love you and care for you. It may be easier to overcome what you are going through, to be honest, when you speak up about it early.
2. Try Not To Take In Everything At Once
Another cause of the problem for many exchange students is that they feel the need to act like the locals instantly. The truth is that no one expects that from you, primarily if you come from a region that has diverse traditions and customs. You are free to adapt to a new thing every day and only take in what you can. No pressure.
3. Reach Out To People
When you are staying in a different country for a while, you cannot be shy or wait for others to talk to you first. Volunteer to introduce yourself; say hi to anyone you make eye contact with. Have a smile ready on your face often as well to let folks the other students know that you are approachable. After befriending your foreign classmates, you may not feel as homesick as before since you won’t be alone all the time.
4. Visit A Local Therapist
Lastly, if it has been weeks and there’s still nobody you can confide in, you should go to a counseling facility inside or near the campus. Although you do not know the therapist personally, you can ensure that he or she will not divulge your woes to random folks. You may even obtain coping techniques from this professional so that you can deal with emotions and thoughts better.
Developing a mental health problem because you miss home, you do not feel accustomed to the new surroundings, or you cannot keep up with everyone in the class is not something you have to hide from others. Remind yourself that it is regretful to cut the trip short due to such reasons, especially when you can sort out the issue without leaving.
Save the tips mentioned above in your memory bank to avoid making rash decisions while studying abroad. Good luck!
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What is Student Exchange?
In my sophomore year, I was curious about student exchange, as my friends were talking about going away for two semesters and studying in another state. I wasn’t very well informed about it because we don’t talk about it with my family – and no one in the family has ever tried being an exchange student.
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Taking the leap and studying abroad can be a fulfilling adventure. But, it also implies a degree of social isolation, facing challenging situations and moving way out of your comfort zone. Added to the pressure any degree course places on a person, it’s not unusual for foreign students to become withdrawn, stressed out or depressed.