International Student College Stress Factors

If you’re moving to the U.S. to attend college, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed about everything that’s about to change in your life.

Moving to a new country for college is stressful for many students every year. To help prepare, be mindful of these international student college stress factors.

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international student college stress

Possible Language Barrier

A common stressor is the potential language barrier in another country.

Many international students arrive on U.S. college campuses worried about their English skills. Even if they’re technically fluent, worries about accents and dialects still happen.

The good news is no one on campus is there to judge you. You’re there to study and learn the best you can.

Also, virtually every college and university has international applicants take an English proficiency exam like TOEFL first. If the language barrier worries you, use that worry as a focus on your TOEFL exam.

Work extra hard when studying and practicing for that test. Why? Because you’ll be getting yourself ready for any on-campus conversation later on.

Safety Worries

Research where you’ll be living first.

If you’re worried about your physical safety, then find a place to live through the school first. Most first-year students will live in on-campus dorms or apartments.

Take this opportunity if presented because you’re guaranteed a good amount of physical safety. Where students run into trouble is looking for excessively cheap housing near campus.

The chances are high that the rent is cheap because the neighborhood isn’t incredibly safe. The best thing to do is to research possible places to live in person.

Don’t scout only over the internet. Try to eventually arrange a trip, visit the area, and visit multiple times during the day. Only then will you see how safe it is overall.

Missing Your Family

Being away from home for the first time is hard.

It’s an entirely new environment and culture to handle. Many students naturally start to miss their family immediately.

That sense of longing makes the distance tougher and life on campus difficult. To reduce this stress:

  • Schedule frequent times for video chats/phone calls home
  • Meet new people on campus through clubs and activities

Remember that you’re pursuing the opportunity for a better life and career. If you’re very shy, then meeting people at on-campus clubs will help tremendously.

Culture Shock

Absorbing a new world fast creates significant stress.

The first thing that stresses international students out is the immediate culture shock. Think about it, within a matter of hours, you’re dealing with:

  • Brand new city
  • New language (likely)
  • New customs and people

Having to absorb all that change all at once isn’t easy for plenty of kids. The best way to avoid that shock is research. Visit your new campus in-person at least once before committing.

If you can’t, then focus on:

  • Watching relevant videos
  • Reading articles and books
  • Reaching out to college staff and alumni

You won’t be 100% ready for all of the changes. But you’ll have enough information to help relax and adjust quickly.

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