Overview of International Students
All new students' first days at a university are ones of adjustment. For international students, this is even truer. Experiencing sharp changes in values and communication patterns can cause stress. Even though studying abroad is an exciting adventure it is also a major life transition. For many of you this is the first time away from home. While you may be looking forward to all the opportunities that come with living in a foreign country, you may also feel apprehensive about the many unknowns.
What Can Be Done?
A good starting place is to make sure you are getting proper and nutritious food and enough exercise and rest to function well. Try to find ways tomeet new people and although it may be difficult at first, nothing can be achieved without trying. Student groups, parties, a host family, religious groups, departmental social events, the Center for Student Involvement and other activities are all good places to meet others. Adjustment and culture shock can be a difficult process that is eased with the development of friends. Research shows that when we are able develop friendships with domestic students and integrate ourselves into the college community, adjustment and overall experiences improve. International students often gravitate to others from the home country. We encourage all students to expand their friendship base by meeting new people with varying identities and experiences.
Above all, relax and take time for yourself, even in the labor of all your class work. Do things you consider enjoyable and things that support your good view of yourself and your abilities. Know that stress can be a sign of challenge and growth, but the typical international student does survive, becomes enriched, and enriches us all.
Verbal expression or “assertion” in social and academic situations can be a major adjustment for international students adapting to American culture. Successful course grades often include active “verbal participation” or “discussion” grades. You may be asked to respond to a question in class, which can trigger public speaking anxiety. Additionally, you may be required to participate in a group project involving a final presentation in front of your peers or be expected to share ideas with other students. If you are afraid of public speaking, if you worry about how others may perceive you, or if you have difficulty feeling confident with your words, you are not alone! Assertiveness is a skill that can be learned. It may take some time, but developing your assertiveness will help improve your communications skills, self confidence, and overall experience here at UC Davis. It can help to remember that assertive communication emphasizes the value of respect, which is generally a shared value across cultures. This shared value may help you adapt to the ways you can become assertive while maintaining your cultural beliefs, values and integrity.
Speak to Someone
While living back at home you may have had many helpful strategies to deal with difficult situations, but these may not be available to you now. As a result, you may feel that you are all alone with your problems and that there is no one to talk to. We would like to let you know that all students can make an appointment to talk to a SHCS counselor.
No problem is too big or too small. In the past, international students have talked about:
- Wanting to clarify American customs
- Being afraid that their English is not good enough
- Worrying about being a failure or disappointment to their parents
- Feeling homesick
- Experiencing culture shock
- Feeling upset over the break-up of a romantic relationship
- Feeling conflicts regarding their own needs versus those of their parents
- Having difficulties getting up and going to classes because of feelings of depression
- Having problems with eating, body image, and self-esteem
- Feeling afraid that others don't like them
How We Can Help
You can schedule an intake with a counselor at North Hall by calling (530) 752-2349. Acute Care drop-in services are available on the first floor of the Student Health and Wellness Center.