If you ask an international student what life is like living and learning in a new country, you’ll hear a mixture of feelings and emotions. There are so many exciting and interesting aspects of exploring a new location; the independence of being on your own, the sense of adventure while discovering this new home, and the pride you feel when you push yourself outside your comfort zone and make new friends. There are, of course, feelings that can come up that you may have not expected; the stress of learning a new transit system, the pressure of wanting to pass your next test, and the homesickness of being away from your loved ones.
At Greystone College, we realize there are several aspects that contribute to our students having transformative living and learning experiences. This reaches beyond just academics and language and includes physical health, mental health, stress and time management, and striving for an overall positive sense of well-being.
September 30th, 2018 marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week in Canada. It was originally created as a week to educate and create awareness surrounding the importance of mental well-being. It’s also designed to reduce the stigma of mental health, as people can openly talk about their struggles, strategies and successes. We know some days can be harder than others, and want to offer some tips to help you manage and learn about your own mental health, where you can access helpful resources, and most importantly: be well.
One of the best things you can do to help with some of the more challenging feelings that can occur when you’re living and studying abroad is be aware. The Canadian Mental Health Association put together a helpful checklist that allows you to review questions about how you’re feeling towards several aspects of your life. Similar to a compass, your emotions can indicate how you’re feeling and where you’re heading. Simple questions like, “when was the last time I felt grateful,” “do I feel supported by those around me,” and even “how are you feeling right now” can become important self-awareness strategies and help you get to know yourself better, and remind you that it’s okay to ask for help.
Positive connections with people, both online and offline, are a huge step in the direction of feeling mentally strong. Putting time and energy into developing strong relationships with your new friends, homestay family, your teachers or others in your community helps you feel like you are part of something bigger than yourself. Connecting with like-minded people online is a great way to feel good, and allows people to access resources and information on the internet that can educate us on difficult topics like mental health, reminding us that we are never alone.
Mental health is just like physical health – everyone has it. It makes sense, then, that the two can be connected with one affecting the other. You’ve heard it before – being active makes you feel good. The endorphins that we feel when we’re active aren’t the only reason to get moving; it also gives us the opportunity to take a break and focus on something other than our homework or job interview, and it can refocus our thoughts and energy. Ask any runner, athlete, dancer or yoga-lover; getting up, getting out, and breaking a sweat is often the quickest way to feeling strong in your body and mind.
It may be obvious but this one might just be our favourite. The learning process, either formal or informal, has numerous positive effects on the way we think, act and Feel. Putting our efforts into education allows us to focus on something other than things that might be stressing us out, and it also has a positive influence on the way we view the world. Learning something new (like a new language!) can open up new opportunities, and give us a stronger sense of confidence as we increase our knowledge and expand the possibilities for our future.
When it comes to a new life adventure like learning a language far away from home, there’s no right way to do it that works for everyone. For some, the key to maintaining a healthy sense of well-being is found by blowing off some steam playing soccer, while for others it lies in having a chat with a friend over coffee. At Greystone College, the route we take to achieve positive mental health isn’t important, but ensuring we feel happy with our overall wellbeing, is.
ILSC Education Group is happy to introduce a free new technology-based chat support service to help manage your mental health. This support is available for all students who are enrolled in our programs at Greystone College Vancouver, Toronto and Montréal location as well as for University Pathway students at ILSC Language Schools in Canada. The KeepMeSafe app gives you free access to immediate chat support and a wealth of free resources to support your ongoing personal and academic success, in a format most convenient and valuable for you. For all of the details including how to download, click here.