5 Tips for International Students to Emotionally Prepare for University Life

As the start of a new academic year draws closer, many students will be making the transition from high school to university abroad. An exciting prospect for students to make new friends, gain more maturity, and turn something they are truly passionate about into a career. However, it can also present some nerves for students, as they move away from their homes and support system, meet new people, and adapt to a new learning environment. It can often feel overwhelming trying to juggle all of these at once, so St. George’s University (SGU) School of Medicine Grenada, in the Caribbean shares five tips for students to cope with these changes.

  1. Make a plan to stay connected.

Students may miss their high school community when they start university life. That’s why it is important for them to stay connected with their social circle, family, and friends. Setting up WhatsApp groups in advance of leaving can help them stay in touch and keep up to date with one another. Equally as important is staying connected to themselves and being in touch with their own emotions. Therefore, journaling about personal experiences and expressing the feelings that accompany these events is always better than bottling them up.

Being organized can help students adapt more smoothly to their new surroundings and responsibilities. For example, students can more efficiently plan what they would like to do during the first week on campus if they have organized their agenda in advance. This habit will also help them plan other areas in their life, such as organizing their schedule to know when to study and when to take time out.

Students going to university might find themselves thinking that other people are able to manage the transition better than them, but this can be detrimental to their confidence and well-being. All students will have come from different backgrounds and it’s important that students focus on their own goals and progress. Having a healthy personal perspective can help manage those pre-university nerves.

It is always a good idea for students to connect with the cohort who planning to go to the same university before the academic year starts. It will help enhance the student’s overall experience and ease the transition into a new academic environment. Building a network of friends even before arriving could give a sense of belonging and support as students embark on this exciting journey together.

Learning how to relax will not only help students as they psychologically prepare themselves to start university, but it will also help during stressful exam periods and in other aspects of life they may encounter in the future. Practicing relaxation techniques such as mindfulness, yoga, meditation, muscle relaxation exercises, deep breathing, and mental or guided imagery could help students focus on being calm and thinking clearly.

To summarize, some students might find the transition from high school to university life stressful, especially if it involves traveling abroad. However, there are ways in which students can cope with the anticipation of making new friends, academic pressures, and leaving familiar support systems behind.  If students still find themselves looking for guidance, students can check if their university has specialized departments offering support to international students that may be missing home. For example, SGU has a dedicated Global Students Lounge that provides cultural adjustment support, a peer mentoring program, and other activities for international students to help them fit into university life.

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