University of Calgary

Back-to-school stress and the international student

Coping with the added weight of a truly foreign experience

Aug. 31, 2012

Being dropped into a new environment on first day of the new school year will be a challenge for many students at Canadian schools and universities next week. For international students, back-to-school- stress can be at an entirely different level – they are regularly faced with cultural, social, and linguistic barriers, as well as simple bureaucratic issues most students don’t even consider.

University of Calgary PhD student Sarah Nunes’ latest research into how international students cope with the cultural-based stressors associated with living and studying in Canada focused on a unique approach to stress resolution. Often referred to as ‘meaning-making’, this approach takes steps to make some sense of, or find some meaning in, the stressor itself.

Nunes’ research has enabled a new understanding about acculturative stress and provided recommendations for university counselors who work with international students. “This research shows that people who are new to a country like Canada use this alternative means of dealing with stress when problem-solving and seeking emotional support are not possible,” she said.

Media availability:

Who: Researcher Sarah Nunes and international students are available to share their first- day of school experiences, describing the stressors unique to their status as international students new to Canada.

When: Tuesday September 4, between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Where: Faculty of Education, University of Calgary

Media in a marked vehicle are invited to park in any lot on campus free of charge.