Stress Factors of International Students

By Staff Writers

International students often experience great stress when arriving in a new country. They may be worried about their studies, homesickness, and adapting to a new culture. In this article about stress of international students, we will explore some of the main sources of stress for international students and offer some tips on how to manage them. Stay tuned!

Language Barriers

Suppose you’re fluent in the language of your host country. In that case, you may find communicating with professors, classmates, and others easier. On the other hand, though you have had experience with a foreign language, you may not be accustomed to the more creative aspects of the language, like slang. As a result, you may find it difficult to keep up with conversations that move quickly.

Such a situation can make it hard to understand lectures and assignments, participate in class discussions and get help when needed. Additionally, you may feel isolated from the local community if you can’t communicate with those around you.

How to Act?

If language barriers are a stressor for you, there are several things you can do to ease the pressure. First, try to find others in your situation and form a study group. Then, you can help each other with assignments and studying for exams.

Additionally, many universities offer language support services specifically for international students. These can be great sources for help with understanding lectures and assignments and practicing your language skills.

Finally, try to immerse yourself in the local culture as much as possible. Attend cultural events, watch local TV and movies, and practice your conversation skills with native speakers.

By doing so, you’ll gradually become more comfortable with the language and be better able to navigate the challenges of living in a new country.

Academic Challenges

International students often face some academic challenges that can lead to stress. These challenges include adjusting to a new educational system, language barriers, and cultural differences.

Academic stress can negatively impact a student’s academic performance and mental and physical health. Therefore, it is important for international students to be aware of the potential sources of stress and to develop coping strategies to deal with stress healthily.

One of the biggest academic challenges for international students is adjusting to a new educational system. In many cases, international students come from a system that is very different from the one they will encounter in their host country. Such a situation can be a major source of stress for students.

How to Act?

There are several ways to deal with this type of stress. One way is to seek support from your peers and faculty members. Talking to other students who have gone through the same experience can be very helpful. Additionally, meeting with your professors outside of class to discuss your academic concerns can be beneficial.

Social and Cultural Differences

Being in a new country can be lonely and isolating, especially if you don’t know anyone. You may also need clarification on the customs and values of your host culture. Such a situation can lead to homesickness, further exacerbating stress levels.

Most students get homesick at some point, but international students often have a harder time since they can only go back home twice a year. Also, the different time zones make it difficult to talk to their families at convenient times.

Besides, many students feel culture shock. It is an experience that international students often go through when they come to study in a new country. It can be a feeling of disorientation and confusion caused by the sudden change in environment. Culture shock is normal, and it is something that all international students will go through at some point.

How to Act?

One way to combat these feelings is to make an effort to connect with other international students. Attend social events, join clubs or organizations related to your hobbies, and take advantage of opportunities to meet new people. You can also stay in touch with family and friends back home through technology like Skype or Facetime.

It can also be helpful to learn more about your host culture. It can help you to understand and appreciate the customs and values that may be unfamiliar to you. There are many resources available online or through your university’s international student office that can help you with this.


Unfortunately, international students often face prejudice and discrimination, both from individuals and institutions. Such a situation can make it hard to feel like you belong or fit in and can add to your stress levels. Some international students report feeling they must work twice as hard as their domestic classmates to prove themselves and be respected.

There are many types of discrimination that international students may face. Some common examples include:

  • Racial and Ethnic discrimination: Such discrimination arises when someone is treated differently or unfairly because of their race or ethnicity. For example, an international student from Asia may be treated differently because of preconceived notions about people from that region.
  • Stereotyping: Such discrimination arises when someone is judged or treated differently because of their country of origin. For example, an African international student may be assumed to be poor or uneducated because of stereotypes about the continent.

How to Act?

If you face discrimination, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Speak up – If you feel comfortable doing so, stand up for yourself and tell the person that their words or actions are hurtful and unwelcome. It can be a difficult thing to do. Still, asserting yourself and showing that you will not tolerate discrimination is important.
  2. Tell someone you trust – If speaking up is not an option for you, or if the situation escalates, tell someone you trust about what happened. It could be a friend, family member, professor, advisor, or campus support staff member. These people can offer you support and help you figure out what to do next.
  3. File a complaint – If you want formal action, you can file a discrimination complaint with your school or the government. It is often a long and complicated process, but it is an option if you feel comfortable pursuing it.

Financial Challenges

Living in a foreign country can be expensive, and you may have difficulty covering all your expenses. The high costs of living associated with going to school abroad often leave international students feeling immense pressure to succeed academically. Their families may encourage them to choose a major that is considered practical or lucrative rather than allowing them to explore all of the potential careers they could have. It can cause financial worry and stress.

How to Act?

There are several ways to try and ease your financial difficulties:

  • Try to find part-time work: Many international students work part-time to help cover their costs. It can be a great way to gain experience in your chosen field and earn extra money. Check with your campus career center or search online for part-time jobs.
  • Apply for scholarships and grants: There are many scholarships and grants available to international students. Do some research to see if you qualify for any of these.
  • Talk to your family and friends: Your family and friends may be able to help you financially if you are struggling. It can be a difficult conversation to have, but it may be worth it in the long run.
  • Cut back on expenses: Take a close look at your budget and see where you can cut back on expenses. It may mean eating out less, going on fewer trips, or buying cheaper clothes. Every little bit can help.

Psychological Difficulties

All of the above factors can contribute to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. If you’re already dealing with a mental health issue, the stress of being an international student can worsen it.

How to Act?

It can be difficult to cope with the challenges of being an international student, especially if you’re dealing with mental health issues. Here are some tips to help you cope:

  • Talk to someone you trust about what you’re going through. It could be a friend, family member, therapist, or counselor.
  • Join a support group for international students. Joining such groups can help you connect with others who are going through similar experiences.
  • Make time for activities that you enjoy. Such practice can help you relax and de-stress.
  • Seek professional help if you’re having difficulty coping. A therapist can help you manage your mental health symptoms and deal with the challenges of being an international student.

Bottom Line

International students face many challenges while attending college in a foreign country. While these challenges can be difficult to overcome, they can be successful with the right support system.

If you are an international student, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Many people and organizations are available to assist you. And if you know someone who is an international student, be sure to offer your support. We wish you all the best in your academic journey!

About the Author

TakeCareStudy is committed to delivering valuable mental health content. We are covering all topics that have to do with students wellbeing, academic success and relationship matters.

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