Studying abroad seems fun. You get to study in a different country, meet new people, be exposed to different cultures, taste different cuisines, etc. But it has its downsides, too, one of them being depression. Many international students in Canada suffer from depression. They find themselves in a different environment and find it hard to maintain a healthy work-study-life balance, deal with financial stress, etc.
Before we go further, let’s understand what depression is. Depression is a common mental illness that causes a continuous feeling of sadness, loss of interest in the things you used to enjoy, changes in appetite, loss of energy, etc. Many international students also struggle with anxiety and lack of sleep or sleeplessness.
If you are an international student facing the same problem or are someone who is planning to study in Canada, this article is for you. This article talks about international college students and depression.
We have listed a few things that might help you cope with depression but before we delve into it, let us look at some of the causes of depression among international students in Canada.
College Students and Depression – Causes
Culture Shock and Homesickness
Going to a different country means being exposed to a completely different culture and lifestyle. Many international students face a cultural shock when they arrive in Canada. The laws are different, the way of living is different, and the way of interacting with one another is also a lot different than it is in their home country. Moreover, they have to deal with added responsibilities of cooking, working a part-time job while studying, paying rent, etc. So, international students take some time to adjust to this entirely new environment. But some find it really difficult to adjust to this new lifestyle.
Homesickness also kicks in after they land in Canada and find themselves in a new and strange environment. They start missing their familiar environment, family, and friends.
When international students reach Canada, most realize that the people here talk English a bit faster than them. And some are not that fluent or confident in their English speaking skills. This might lead to language barriers, because of which many face difficulties communicating with others. Some might feel like they might not be able to fit in due to the difficulty in communication. Moreover, language plays a huge role in the transmission of knowledge. Hence, international students who face language barriers might find it difficult to excel academically. Language issues could affect one’s self-esteem and confidence, and it hinders the acquisition of fluency in English and the process of acculturation.
College Students and Depression- Coping Methods
Here are a few things that you can do to cope with depression as an international student in Canada.
Connect with Other International Students
Surrounding yourself with other international students, both from your home country as well as from other countries, who share your experiences as an international student in Canada will prove to be very helpful. Build or join a community as this will enrich your experience in Canada and present you with different perspectives. It will also provide you with the much-needed support that you need and long for. This will provide you with connections that will prove to be very helpful in the future.
Make use of the College or University Services
Your college or university understands that adjusting to an entirely new environment in a different country is not easy. Hence, they usually provide certain services and support to their international students to make their acculturation process as easy as possible. Check your college or university website to see what services it offers and make the most of it.
Most universities and colleges offer short-term therapy with a therapist to their students. While a short-term therapy might not be enough to deal with longstanding depression, it is surely helpful.
Meditation and Yoga or Some Form of Exercise
Meditation and exercise help a lot in coping with depression. Regular meditation can help you manage depression in a better way. It helps in turning your brain away from negative thoughts, stress and anxiety that trigger depression. It also helps you remain calm.
Yoga is said to have helped a lot of people with depression. Sign up for yoga classes or hit the gym or engage in some form of exercise. This will not only help you cope with depression but also improve your overall health.
Engage in Creative Activities
Engaging in creative activities such as painting, journaling, etc., is a healthy way of releasing the negative emotions and thoughts that plague your mind. So try doing that.
Seek Professional Help
As mentioned earlier, colleges and universities provide short-term therapy. You can make use of it. Or you can seek professional help elsewhere. Your health insurance will help you cover the expenses.
While doing the above-said activities can help you deal with depression, please remember to give yourself time to adjust to the changes. Be kind to yourself, and don’t force yourself to change. Canada is a multicultural country where people belonging to different backgrounds and beliefs are welcome. You will fit in the Canadian society while retaining your individuality and beliefs eventually.
What are some common problems faced by international students in Canada?
Leaving one’s own country is a huge step, and international students have to adjust to a completely new environment. Canada being a multicultural country, has people from all over the world with different views and beliefs. So one of the common problems faced by international students is culture shock. Other common problems include homesickness, lack of work or study and personal life balance, language barriers, financial stress, etc. These might result in depression, anxiety and lack of sleep in many international students. The pandemic revealed how vulnerable the international student community in Canada is. However, there are a few things that can help the students cope with these problems. They are engaging in some form of exercise, creative activity, connecting with friends, seeking professional help, etc.
Is the life of international students in Canada easy?
Canada is one of the most popular and best countries in the world for overseas studies. International students here enjoy a great quality of life. Though international students take some time to adjust to the changes in their life upon arriving in a different country, they acclimatize pretty quickly. However, some international students find it hard to adjust to the new environment and experience culture shock, homesickness, etc. Some also face language barriers. These factors sometimes result in depression and anxiety and also cause sleeplessness. Moreover, many students find it hard to juggle their work, studies and personal life. Hence, it can be said that while Canada offers a great quality of life, the life of international students is not always a cakewalk.
Is studying in Canada a good idea?
Canada provides world-class education and is more affordable than many other countries. The degrees and certificates conferred by Canadian colleges and universities are recognized worldwide. Colleges and universities provide various services and support to international students to make their life a lot easier. Hence, studying in Canada is a great idea. But not all international students find it easy to adjust to the new culture and environment of Canada. They might feel homesick, face culture shock, language barriers, etc.