International Students: Dealing with emotional anxiety, stress & depression

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Living in a different country with an entirely different way of life can be daunting. It is understandable to feel anxious or emotionally drained off.

Being a university student in Australia can be some of the most exciting years of your life. You get to meet new people, enjoy new experiences, and explore life in a new country. But these can also be some of the loneliest years. You can feel homesick, demotivated, anxious, or even depressed.

If you feel like this, you certainly aren’t alone! Studies have consistently shown that close to 70 per cent of university students report having poor mental health. So what should you do? Where should you go?

Feeling this way is totally normal!

Whether this is your first time in Australia or you’ve visited before, living in a different country with an entirely different way of life can be daunting. It is understandable to feel anxious or overwhelmed.

If you’re tempted to hide out in your room on particularly bad days, remind yourself of the reasons you came here. Listen to some music, go for a walk, and clear your head. Try to run some errands to keep yourself moving without having to focus too much, like doing your laundry or cooking a meal.

How is everyone else doing so well?

Occasionally, your negative feelings might be made worse by your other Indian friends who seem to be adjusting perfectly. Aren’t they nervous about taking buses alone? How are they learning a new currency?

Just keep in mind that they may have other struggles that you do not. Comparing yourself to other people isn’t fair, and it certainly isn’t productive – there’s no one else who is quite like you!

It’s good (and healthy) to talk it out

If you’ve made even a few friends that you feel comfortable around, don’t hesitate to open up to them. They might be feeling the same way!

If you’re struggling to make friends, there’s no shame in that! Australians might be more boisterous or outspoken than you’re used to, but they’re also some of the most welcoming people if you give them a chance. Try to join clubs that match your interests; you’ll get to meet other students who love the same things as you, and as we know, that’s always a great base for any successful friendship.

Manage your stress

Time management and lesson planning can go a long way! Instead of letting your assignments pile up, leaving you stressed and sleep-deprived, be proactive about your studies.

Invest in wall calendars or Post-It notes to keep track of important dates and submissions. Allot a few hours every week to your readings, meetings, and general studies – you’d be surprised how easy it can be to lose track of the reason you came to Australia in the first place.

Create study spaces where you can focus solely on your work. Experiment with a few different places like the university library, a café close to your house, or even study rooms in the university till you find the right fit.

Take advantage of university facilities

Every university has a counselling center because they recognize how difficult student life can be, especially for international students. Take advantage of these facilities! Make an appointment to meet a licensed professional who can listen to you and help you, if you need it. There is no shame in reaching out if you need some additional help.

You’ll also find that your university professors are very understanding if you are honest with them. They may provide you with extensions for assignments, direct you to appropriate avenues if you need academic assistance, or simply lend an ear.

Remember, you’re not alone in this!

READ ALSO: NSW Government will teach swimming to International students

Rhea L Nath
Rhea L Nath
Rhea L Nath is a writer and editor based in Sydney. In 2022, she was named Young Journalist of the Year at the NSW Premier's Multicultural Communications Awards.

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