Welcome, International Students!
On behalf of the Counseling Center staff at North Dakota State University, we would like to welcome you to Fargo and our campus. Studying abroad is an exciting adventure as well as 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.
Before you left your country, you may have wished to be more independent of your family. Now perhaps you find yourself left alone too much. You may encounter too many choices, too much freedom, too little direction and guidance. You may feel disoriented by the different sights, smells, sounds and tastes. American values, traditions and habits may be confusing. You may wonder how you will make friends and how to communicate with others; you may worry about your academic performance and you may feel uncertain about how to spend your free time especially on weekends.
Your parents, siblings and friends are not here. Your favorite foods and places to go are not available for your comfort. You might worry about your family at home and fear that you might become a disappointment to them. Your self-confidence may drop because you might compare yourself to American students. You might expect yourself to do as well academically as native speakers. Add to that the pressure of needing to study in a foreign language, possible misunderstandings with professors and roommates, and you have all the ingredients of stress.
When living at home, you may have 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 you are welcome to come to the Counseling Center to talk with one of the Counselors. To schedule an appointment, simply call us at 231-7671, or stop by our office at 212 Ceres Hall, and ask to make an appointment for personal counseling. Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m (7:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. during the summer). No problem is too big or 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 conflict 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
When a person talks to a counselor or psychologist in other countries, it may mean that a person has a "big" mental problem. It does not mean the same thing in the U.S. Here it is quite common that a person consults with a counselor or psychologist. Most people actually believe it is a 'good thing', and that to discuss personal matters with a counselor reveals strength and courage rather than weakness. It is a way to take care of oneself and to prevent physical and mental health problems. Counseling is confidential and free to students.
In closure, our staff hopes this information is helpful and that we will have a chance to get to know many of you.
Staff of the NDSU Counseling Center
Adapted with permission from: Edel Davenport, M.S., L.P.C., Staff Counselor at University of Oregon Counseling Center