International students face many challenges when coming abroad to study in addition to the stress that comes with being a regular student. Newly arrived students have to adapt to a different education system, manage living on their own and try to form friendships.
Many of us tend to take on part-time jobs in addition to internships right from the beginning as well, adding to the already massive amount of stress. And while some thrive on stress and tight deadlines, doing it continuously can lead to burning out.
What is burning out?
Burning out is when a person is overworked and overstressed to the point of emotional and mental exhaustion. This can lead to bouts of depression and losing all motivation.
Students who are burnt out may start feeling like their work and studies are pointless and that they are just constantly lethargic. Just like depression, those who are affected may not realise it at all.
Instead of looking at how to overcome burning out, it is better to avoid it beforehand. By understanding the different types of stressors in our lives, we can better balance work and play.
International students are usually expected to perform well academically. For many, this means putting in 100 per cent effort with late nights and cups of coffee. Because studying overseas is a big expense, most of us believe that its all or nothing.
While your studies are important and you should be putting all effort into it, your mental health comes first. Incorporate at least 10 minutes for meditation or find an outlet to relax.
Although there is a stigma of international students being rich, many actually have multiple part-time jobs just to stay afloat. For students that require the money, make sure you are not being exploited and paid at least the minimum wage. It may be okay to work hard for most of the semester but remember to lessen the number of shifts during assignment/exam times.
For those who are really struggling financially, seek help from your counselors in university. Some may be able to recommend options for financial assistance. Scholarships are also always available. Don’t neglect to communicate with friends and family as well. These connections will help you and those who care about you will worry if stop responding.
It can be exhausting to socialise all the time especially if your days are already filled with work and study. While being with friends is good for you, students should not feel peer pressured into spending time they don’t have. Especially for introverts, recovery time is very important and if hanging out every day is tiring you out, take a day for yourself.
While these are some of the biggest stressors in an international student’s daily life, there are many others that have not been mentioned. If feeling upset, consult a counselor, friend or loved one. Sometimes talking about it is a way to offset the negativity.
I’m burnt out now, what do I do?
If you’re already burnt out, take some time off to rest and recuperate. Do not feel guilty about taking time for yourself and if you still feel unmotivated after a couple of weeks, make sure to visit a counselor. Do things that relax you even if its something like cleaning your living space or drawing. Being inundated with the mundanity of life sometimes means we lose the time to do what we really enjoy.
Pick up a colouring book or watch that cartoon you really like. Bake some brownies and read a book. Just like a battery, the human soul needs recharging too.
This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org.