Discussion groups will help foreign students with stress

By Rob Heselbarth

A series of discussion groups will be offered to help international students adjust to the stress they might feel after feeling culture shock from living in America.

Today from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the International Student and Faculty Office, across from Anderson Hall, the second in a series of four workshops dealing with being an international student will be held.

“When international students start feeling the physical effects of stress, most go to the health service first,” said Brian Rooney, an intern with the Counseling and Student Development Center.

“We want those students to know what some signs of stress are so they come to us for help,” Rooney said. “That’s what this workshop is for, to alert the students as to what some specific signs of stress are, and how they can recognize them.”

Shiraz Tata, a psychologist for the Counseling and Student Development Center, said, “Mental health is an open subject in the U.S. In other countries it is not so open.”

“We want the international students to be prepared so it is easier for them to cope with the stress they feel,” Tata said.

“With culture shock, initially everything is beautiful,” said Thecla Cooler, assistant director for the International Student and Faculty Office.

“Then after a while, you start to not like everything so much, and homesickness sets in, and signs of stress start to be felt,” Cooler said. “The more confident you are when coming to a new country, the harder you are hit with culture shock.”

Besides dealing with the shock of living in another country, there are other problems that international students must face.

“They must know how to register for classes, how to pay tuition, and where to go for all the various university-related tasks they must do,” Cooler said.

“We attempt to assist them with coping with all their problems,” Cooler said.

“We want to convey a sense that there is nothing wrong with feeling stress the way they do,” Rooney said. “We want to give them ways to manage stress.”

At the discussion, Rooney will be giving a speech on “How to’s” dealing with stress. He will alert students to signs of stress they might be feeling. After his speech, the discussion will start.

“We want students to gain and share from each other’s experience,” Tata said. “Talking about their problems will help them to realize they aren’t the only ones feeling stress.”