Chinese should prepare for problems studying overseas

By Chen Zeling Source:Global Times Published: 2018/2/27 19:08:39

A writer from China who once studied at Harvard University admitted in a recent The New York Times article that she suffered from depression and anxiety while studying and living in the US.

She was lucky enough to still be able to try her best to find possible solutions herself using a cool mind; she finally weathered the difficult time. But many other overseas Chinese students are also dealing with academic stress and cultural differences in a tragic way.

School is no picnic, even if students are attending school in a familiar environment. When it comes to studying abroad, more pressure is expected to be caused by language barriers, which oftentimes puts a damper on students' progress in reading and learning.

Unfortunately, even if many of them work hard to make up for the differences, it is still hard to fit into a second-language community on a day-to-day basis. One of my friends who has been studying at Sydney University for nearly four years admitted that he can hardly understand let along chitchat with other students when they joke around after class.

Suggestions to actively reach out to local students are easier said than done. When I was an exchange student in Australia, I was turned down by a nice girl even though I asked her many times if we could do a project together. I felt that all attempts are not turned out as I had expected.

Before making the final decision to study abroad, students and their parents should be fully aware of and well-prepared for the possible pressure from both school work and everyday life.

Many parents are now obsessed about sending their children abroad for a Western education. However, parents should be alert to the possible disadvantages of studying and living abroad, especially from a very young age. Instead of making the decision for them, parents should let their children have a say.

Not only parents, but also students should anticipate what difficulties they might face when continuing their education abroad. The priority is to figure out why they are pursuing an education in another country. A survey released in 2017 showed that about a third of all Chinese students study abroad simply because of the names of famous universities, according to It would be a dangerous answer if students simply wanted to get a glorious degree from famous universities. The enviable chance to study abroad can be feeble to support students through all the pressure they may face.

Some even go abroad in order to experience a life free from their parents' close supervision. Nevertheless, without care from parents, students have to do everything for themselves despite the fact that they can do anything they like.

By contrast, if you have a passion for what you pursue, whether it is about developing a professional skill or about realizing your childhood dream, chances are that you will be more determined to settle whatever difficulties you may encounter.

But even if the students are fully prepared and have the confidence to deal with the problems on their own, real situations can still go out of all expectation and get beyond the students' control. When this happens, it is wise for the students to seek help from others.

In the article by the Chinese writer mentioned above, she suggested that universities in the US hire Chinese-speaking mental health counselors. But a better solution is to involve eligible counselors in some online projects, which solves the problem of limited candidates to serve face to face in the university.

With the help of the internet or even VR technology, it is likely that more students can benefit from this kind of assistance, which is offered by experts who they can talk to freely in their mother tongue.

Studying abroad is bound to cause stress, but parents, students as well as society should be aware that students can face extra pressure when studying far away from home.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.

Illustration: Lu Ting/GT



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