How people would react and manage their stress when they come to a new environment: a reflection

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Study One

Reflection

I found the study to be quite beneficial. It provided a detailed account of the value that international students bring to campuses.  Most often, American students view international students as threats aiming for their jobs and affecting the economic, physical, and educational well-being. International students are perceived to affect the values, beliefs, and social status of American students due to anti-immigrant prejudice. Such fears prevent individuals from seeing the benefits international students bring to the learning institutions. The study highlights some of the benefits that international students bring to universities. They enhance the academic excellence of institutions since they are adequately prepared academically, stemming from the fact that they are highly ranked in their home countries. They are also a source of diversity, and the students, faculty, and society can understand the culture of different regions. Additionally, they are a source of income. These students pay for the services provided by the institution. Colleges thus get revenue from other parts of the world. Despite these benefits, international students face discrimination, prejudice, financial difficulties, language and culture barrier, depressions, nostalgia, isolation, and culture shock. The stress prevents them from isolating with their classmates which affects their grades. The students stand to fail, lose their scholarships, lose their jobs (for those who cannot keep jobs because of the culture shock), and suffer from depression and anxiety if they do not deal with the challenges associated with moving to new countries.

The study highlights various ways that the institutions can assist a smooth transition for such individuals. Colleges and universities stand to lose if international students stop enrolling for their services. They should thus adopt these strategies to encourage more people to apply and join their institutions. Firstly, the colleges should provide adequate resources to ensure a smooth transition for the international students once they join American colleges. The resources should include counseling to provide professional help that will help deal with the stress, anxiety, depression, culture shock, and any issues affecting the international students. Secondly, the institutions should provide professionals that will assist the students to settle down. The professionals can include counselors, advisors, and any experienced individuals that can make international students adapt to new regions. The professionals can assist in finding affordable accommodation, part-time jobs, and advising on the clubs and societies that will help them acclimate. Thirdly, institutions should develop a zero-tolerance policy for the individuals who discriminate and mistreat the international students. Colleges should be a haven where individuals feel safe and can develop themselves without fear of stigmatization and prejudice. I find the study helpful since it shifts the responsibility of reducing the stress and anxiety that international students face from the students to the institutions. As such, international students will have the support they need to settle down, study, and advance themselves. These students need the support of the society to get over the culture shock especially since they have a lot to offer to the institutions and the society.

Study Two

Reflection

The source is a publication by Sydney University aimed at assisting students and other individuals to embrace their stay oversees. I found the source relevant as it was published by a renowned university aimed at making the adjustment of international students to new states manageable. The article highlights that, international students’ move from culture shock to culture adjustment upon adjusting to the conditions of international colleges and Universities. Culture adjustment enables individuals to celebrate their home countries and culture and integrate to and adapt to the life at school. The article further explains it as normal for individuals who had in the past adjusted to foreign cultures to face anxiety, depression, and feel lonely. The article not only provides strategies and techniques for coping with the stress but also empathizes with the readers. It is thus practical and can assist international students and foreigners to adapt to new environments. The publication highlights the following strategies to assist in coping with new environments: firstly, individuals should keep contact with family and friends back home on a regular basis. They should write letters, emails, using social networking sites, and any other communication mode that helps them communicate with their loved ones. Secondly, they should tour the new environment. The best way to fit in is to understand the region one is in with an effort understand the people and their practices. A keen interest in the new country will not only increase knowledge but is also an opportunity to make friends. Thirdly, the authors suggest that individuals should ask questions about unsure things. The natives will be more helpful once they view an individual as someone interested in their culture and not as a snob. Fourthly, it is crucial to read and understand the history and the people of the region that one currently resides. The content will not only provide the information necessary but will also assist in understanding some practices. The international students will act and dress like the residents. Fourthly, it is necessary to be observant and curious. This will assist in understanding the culture. Fifthly, making friends is crucial in adapting to new situations. Friends will make it less lonely and will provide people to talk to. The individuals will thus have reduced depression rates, anxiety, and stress due to the availability of friendly people. Lastly, the students should do things that will help them celebrate their cultures like partaking in cultural weeks. This will help connect to one’s home country and will also offer an opportunity to teach the other students elements of one’s home country. Incorporating these strategies will make it easier for international students to settle in new environments.

Study Three

Reflection

The study focused on international students seeking higher education in the UK. The study aimed at investigating the learning perceptions held by international students schooling at London Metropolitan University Business School. The study was to determine if students faced difficulties making social and cultural adaptations when studying in the UK and the processes the institution would introduce to assist the students to cope with the new surroundings. The study not only focused on ways that recruiters and tutors could make the adjustments comfortable but also on the students’ perspectives on improving their adjustment. The study was essential for the institution as 20% of the students were international students. Reliable results would assist LMBS to make acclimation bearable for the international students. The study focused on two issues: the ability to speak and comprehend the English language and social-cultural adjustment. These two factors affect majority of international students who do not speak the English language. This is because they have to attend classes immediately upon enrolment which makes it easier to understand things taught in class. Additionally, the students are practically on their own since tutors are not introduced to the classes in the early weeks. More so, students make fun of the accents and the pronunciations by these international students. It thus becomes difficult for the students to participate during class due to the fear of becoming the laughing stalk. The grades of the student will further be affected due to lack of proper comprehension and reduced marks because of not participating in class discussions. In the end, the international students, who were bright and excellent performers in their former schools, suffer because of the culture shock they experience in the new countries.

Luckily, the study highlights ways that the students can be assisted to fit in with the other students. Firstly, peer mentoring by mentors who have already completed the terms that the new students are starting and facing difficulties with. The mentors can provide support and guidance about the course content and also about the practices of the foreign country. Secondly, the formation of local language or study skills group will help the international students with their schoolwork. Before the students fully learn the English language, they can team up with other international students and discuss coursework to avoid being left behind. Additionally, the students in specific language classes can team up and practice the English language thus speed up their learning process. Thirdly, it is essential for increased social activity that will help the individuals make friends. It is lonely being in a foreign state and more depressing if there is nobody to talk to and company to do social activities. Loneliness increases stress due to the lacking of an avenue to vent to or share information. International students will benefit from social activities prompted by individuals or learning institutions. They should try to make friends make their stay bearable. The international students should use these strategies to reduce their stress and anxiety levels.

Study Four

Reflection

The study focused on “cultural stress among international students at an Australian university.” It is crucial to note that the essay has highlighted the challenges faced by international students in various states namely the US, the UK, and currently Australian. The challenges that international students face are similar in different states. It is safe to state that individuals feel stresses, anxious, and depressed when they move to different locations. In addition to the factors highlighted above, gender, age, self-esteem, educational level, status, and the previous cross-cultural experience increase the stress levels of international students making it difficult to adapt to the new environment. The study involved 979 participants who filled in questionnaires revolving around questions about cultural stress, anxiety, stress, and depression scales; lifestyle balance, connectedness, and demographic and situational information. The results proved that cultural stress affected international students but not on an extreme level. Additionally, the participants responded positively to areas associated with prejudice, discrimination, and safety threats. The area that provoked the strongest reaction was the feeling of not belonging to the university. Moreover, the study proved that cultural stress affects the academic progress of international students. The study further showed that cultural stress, mental health, study, and social lifestyle balance suggest that there are negative psychosocial consequences for international students that interfere with the adjustment to the foreign country thus preventing them from performing optimally. The study did not highlight the techniques to reduce the mental health issues associated with new environment, but it did support the previous studies on the effects of anxiety and stress to international students. The study can be used by international students who want to know the effects of the above-mentioned issues with the aim of solving them.

Study Five

Reflection

In this study, the authors highlighted different educational systems among the challenges that face international students. Additionally, students suffer due to inadequate support regarding finances, accommodation, and employment, especially for scholarship students. The study also highlights the length of residence in the host countries as one of the factors that make adjustment bearable. I am having difficulty understanding how the length of residency decreases the stress levels of individuals in foreign countries. Does it mean that a shorter period will make adapting easier? Or is it longer periods that make it easier to adjust since the individual has no option but to learn to live in the country? It is crucial to conduct comprehensive research on this issue to clarify how length eases depression. The study aimed at investigating a range of variables that affected the adjustment process of international students in Malaysia. As previously mentioned, the factors that affect international students continue to be alike despite the country or region.  The same was the case in this study as it also highlighted some of the factors listed above that challenge students. The study found out that there was no relationship between gender and cross-cultural adjustment. This means that both genders are affected by cross-cultural adjustment without any inclination of one gender being more affected than another. Additionally, the study highlighted traveling as a technique for international students to reduce stress and anxiety. Individuals who have traveled in the past find it easier to adapt to new environments as opposed to those who have not. Therefore, students and individuals who find themselves in foreign countries should make a point of traveling within the country to learn more about it. This will not only introduce the individuals to new surroundings but will also expose them to new cultures and people thus making it easier to adjust in their host country. More so, prior travel experience, for individuals who have traveled abroad in the past, has work adjustment, interactional adjustment, and general adjustments. The individuals looking to join international schools or work in international states should look for opportunities to travel and live in foreign countries before going to the colleges or work respectively. The travel experience will put them in the proper mind frame once they go to school and work abroad.

The study also found a positive relationship between academic achievement and cross-cultural adjustment. Students should work towards adapting to new environments to excel academically. However, the study refuted the correlation between social-cultural factor and cross-cultural adjustment. This means that individuals do not have to have a strong relationship with the host country individuals to adjust to the new environment. The hypothesis contradicts with previous studies that pinpoint socio-cultural factors as making it easier to adjust to foreign countries. Does it also mean that individuals can adapt without friends and people to guide them in the host country? Are friendships and acquaintances examples of socio-cultural factors or what does socio-cultural factors? These questions can be good research questions for my thesis paper where I can determine if socio-cultural factors contribute to cross-cultural adjustments.

The study also identifies personal emotions as contributing to cross-cultural adjustments. International individuals should thus have a positive mind frame to settle in foreign states thus reduce depression, stress, and anxiety levels.

The study further provided various recommendations for universities to achieve cross-cultural adjustments for their international students. The recommendations include: providing multicultural training workshops to the individuals in contact with international students. The institutions should also be aware of the independent and dependent learning methods to enable international students to overcome the academic adjustment challenges. Additionally, learning institutions should have friend atmospheres that encourage host students to interact with the international students. A friendly atmosphere will support the transition for international students and will also make it easier to make new friends. Lastly, offering help to international students should include the religious and cultural restrictions of all students. This applies to the official and social receptions that at times ignore the reservations of some cultures. Incorporating neutral environments allows all students, both host and international, to be free with one another during the gatherings thus encouraging cross-cultural adjustments. The study was thus excellent as it provided strategies for individuals, institutions, and assisted in developing a research question.

Study Six

Reflection

A 2004 study identified Chinese students as being more dissatisfied with their New Zealand experience as compared to students from North America, Europe, and South Africa. Despite the dissatisfaction, the study revealed that Chinese students pointed out their likelihood of applying for residency permanently in New Zealand. The study thus investigated the perceptions and experience of the Chinese international students and their dissatisfaction and choice to stay in New Zealand or move back home. The study conducted face-to-face studies and focused groups to collect data. The study revealed that students chose New Zealand as a study destination since the expected to get a quality education from the state. Others resorted to New Zealand after rejection by other countries like Australia and Canada among others. The international students experienced several challenges with the New Zealand educational system like challenges in attaining English skills which affected their participation in discussions, projects, and assignments. Other challenges included the low rating of the New Zealand educations system in comparison to other countries perceived to provide quality education.

Like the other studies, the Chinese students faced difficulties because of the language barrier, loneliness, and finding accommodation.

Their disappointments also stemmed from frustrations following unfulfilled expectations, challenges in maintaining relationships with their families back in China, different social support networks in the host country, inadequate accommodation, and limited interaction with domestic students. These factors leading to increased anxiety, stress levels, and depression will assist in conducting my study. I will investigate whether these factors affect individuals while trying to develop strategies to reduce the mental health issues with the hopes of achieving cross-cultural adjustments. Despite these factors that made the stay of the Chinese students difficult, their frustration also stemmed from the long period taken to learn English and the inability to contribute to class due to inadequate language skills. Therefore the students can ensure that they have the proper master of the English language before applying and attending international schools. Additionally, they should not have too high expectations since countries and resources are different. Reduced expectations will make the students appreciate some factors like accommodation. Additionally, they should invest in making new friends to reduce the loneliness. Lastly, they should be prepared financially to prevent the frustrations coupled with inadequate funds. This can be achieved by saving in advance, looking for part time jobs before arriving in the host countries, and financial support from friends and family.

Study Seven

Reflection

It seems that the main challenges that international students and workers face are English language issues. Additionally, students continually face academic issues that stem from poor language skills, different education systems, and culture shock. Culture shock affects the students since it takes time to adjust to the new environments. By the time the students adjust the classes are usually in session thus missing the concepts taught in the previous classes when the students were trying to settle down. Lastly, socio-cultural issues continue to affect individuals thus increasing their stress levels, depression, and anxiety. The techniques that such individual should employ are teaching themselves about the culture of their host countries before moving there. Education will make them know what to wear, the language that the people talk, dressing, and the appropriate behavior. Assimilating themselves into this culture will make it easier to adjust to the surroundings. Additionally, occupying themselves to avoid being idle will assist in reducing the feelings of loneliness. The students and individuals working abroad can do these by looking for activities during their free times. The activities will assist in meeting new people, learning more about the host countries, and reducing cases of depression. It is thus easy for individuals to adapt to host countries and cultures they should just ensure that they have the proper education and keep themselves busy. I can carry out research to determine whether these methods work. My thesis can then be published in scholarly journals if I prove that these techniques work.

Study Eight

Reflection

Individuals in new work environments face stress due to numerous reasons. Firstly, fear of failure. New environments come with the pressure to achieve to show the employers that an individual is worthy of the title or the employment positions. Individuals thus stress themselves out trying to meet the expectations they think the employer expects of them. Secondly, individuals become stressed because of the intense competition among workers. People compete to avoid becoming redundant. There is fear of redundancy in that individuals will be retrenched or lose their positions once they start becoming useless to the organization. Consequently, people overexert themselves to surpass their colleagues. For new employees, such environments can be stressful especially if it is an entry-level job with minimal training requirements. Lastly, individuals become stressed in new working environments when they do not know the culture, the people in the new office, and how to achieve certain goals. These are but few reasons for employee stress that results in anxiety and depression. The study highlights mindfulness as a technique to reduce the stress levels of college students. Mindfulness entails being present at the exact moment and enjoying the moment without thinking about what is expected of an individual. Being mindful ensures that individuals provide their best thus increased productivity and improved performance. Individuals should teach themselves about being mindful as they join new work environments and go to international schools. Additionally, it is crucial to learn the culture, rules, and ways to achieve goals to avoid depression. It is possible to achieve the goals and to be productive without being constantly stressed. Individuals need just to employ the proper strategies and techniques.

Study Nine

Reflection

In addition to being mindful, the study suggests technology-mediated environments to assist in stressful situations. These environments are applicable during extreme situations when individuals cannot be mindful, develop strategies to assist in reducing stressful situations like new ways to meet targets. The study explains such environments as an empowerment process to learn skills to cope and regulate emotions thus cope with anxiety and stress. Like mindfulness, the sense of presence assists in coping with the stressful situations. The experience of being present assists in overcoming the limitation of existing procedures for anxiety and psychological stress. However, this process cannot be used without the help of professionals who will assist with the biosensors and gadgets. I can search for this process to investigate its applicability and whether it reduces stress. I will also determine whether there are health implications for the individuals who choose to use this technique to reduce their anxiety and stress levels.

Study Ten

Reflection

Lastly, the most common yet effective way to deal with depression, stress, and anxiety is through counseling and psychotherapy. The technique is especially effective for depressed individuals who require professionals to guide them to proper mental health. Psychotherapy and counseling not only aim at solving the depression but also coming to the root of such incidents. They question the reasons for the depression, the triggers, and the state of mental health that depressed individuals go through. Some people become moody, others become suicidal, while other become silent and reserved. Counseling will assist international students to cope with the pressures that culture shock, discrimination, prejudice, and the other factors that trigger the feelings. My thesis will look into psychorep[ay and counseling and determine if they are suitable methods for international students. It will also go through past research to determine the cases of success stories of individuals who recovered from depression, stress, and anxiety due to counseling. Counseling assist individuals to come to the root of their problems with the aims of generating solutions.

Conclusion

In conclusion, individuals face depression, anxiety, and stress when they move to new environments. They experience these issues because of eon the fear of rejection, being lonely, discrimination, prejudice, financial constraints, dissatisfactions, language barrier, socio-cultural barriers and issues, and the pressure to succeed. There are, however, measures to cope with stress, depression, and anxiety, like making friends, learning the language, culture, and rules; therapy, traveling, intervention by learning institutions and higher authorities. My thesis will conduct a study on the stress levels of the international students in ASU with the aims of coming up with strategies and techniques to reduce their stress levels and depression. A successful study will enable me to achieve my other aim which entails providing a publishable paper.

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  1. Wu, H., Garza, E., & Guzman, N., 2015. International Student’s Challenge and Adjustment to College. Education Research International, 2015(Article ID 202753). http://doi.org/10.1155/2015/202753
  2. Gilbert, P. (2007). Psychotherapy and Counseling for Depression. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Book Reviews, 402. 49-95
  3. Villani, D., Cipresso, P., & Repetto, C. (2014). Coping with Stress and Anxiety: The Role of Presence in Technology-Mediated Environments
  4. Bamber, M., Schneider, J. (2016). Mindfulness-based meditation to decrease stress and anxiety in college students: A narrative synthesis of the research. Educational Research Review, 18, 1-32
  5. Bista, K., & Foster, C. (2016). Exploring the Social and Academic experiences of International Students in Higher Education Institutions. IGI Global
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  7. Mustaffa, C., & Ilias, M. (2013). The relationship between Students Adjustment Factors and Cross Cultural Adjustment: A survey at the Northern University of Malaysia. Intercultural Communication Studies XXII: 1
  8. Thomson, G., Rosenthal, D., & Russell, J. (2006). CULTURAL STRESS AMONG INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS AT AN AUSTRALIAN UNIVERSITY. In Australian International Education Conference 2006. Melbourne, Australia: The University of Melbourne.
  9. Bamford, J. (2008). Strategies for the improvement of international students’ academic and cultural experiences of studying in the UK. Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network: Enhancing Series: Internalisation.
  10. Counseling and Psychological Services. (2011). Learn to adjust to a new culture. Retrieved from https://sydney.edu.au/content/dam/students/documents/learn-to-adjust-to-a-new-culture.pdf
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