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International Students

International Students

As an international student, there are many opportunities waiting for you here at the University of Utah. However, you may be experiencing stress related to common experiences among international students, given you have likely just left family and friends behind and are adapting to a new culture and country. Often times, international students may feel isolated as they begin to adapt to life in Salt Lake City and at the U. This page has many resources specifically for international students to help them identify sources of possible stress, provide you with strategies and resources to help you cope with this life transition.

Common Concerns Specific for International Students

International students often experience the following concerns:

  • Homesickness
  • Lack of social network or traditional support system
  • Navigating language and cultural differences
  • Understand university, government, and legal requirements
  • Racial, religious, or ethnic prejudice, discrimination, or harassment 
  • Academic difficulties/stress
  • Family conflict or pressure
  • Relationship problems (lab mates, instructors, romantic partners)
  • Major or career choice concerns
  • Financial strains
  • Feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts or feelings

What is Culture Shock? 

Culture shock often results from a sudden transition out of one’s home or native country and culture to a new and often unfamiliar country and culture. International students frequently experience culture shock to different degrees. This is a normal reaction to adapting to a new environment.

These are some symptoms of culture shock:

  • Headaches
  • Sleeping more/less than usual
  • Stomach aches
  • Depression
  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Withdrawal/isolation

What might help?

  • Recognize the symptoms of culture shock and understand this is a common reaction. 
  • Use coping strategies (e.g., exercise, eating well, being with friends, listening to music, talking with others).
  • Create reminders of home in your environment, such as photographs or keepsakes.
  • Give yourself time and space to adjust to the new culture. 
  • Make friends and get involved in different clubs or activities on campus. 
  • Share your feelings with others, especially those who have experienced culture shock as well.
  • Seek counseling services to help cope with adjusting.

How can counseling help?

Depending on your cultural background, you may have different ways of asking for help or coping with challenges. In the U.S., people will often ask professionals, such as counselors, social workers, or psychologists, for help with their concerns. Although this is common practice in the U.S., it is understandable that not all cultures are comfortable with counseling. However, if you feel like you need help with a concern or problem, counseling may be a useful tool to help you be happy, healthy, and productive here at the University of Utah. A counselor can help you in many ways. In general, a counselor will listen to you, understand the different issues you are coping with, and help you find answers or solutions to your concerns.

In addition, counseling can:

  • Assist in personal development
  • Help individuals develop self-confidence and interpersonal skills
  • Offer support in personal struggles
  • Allow for brainstorming ways to overcome personal struggles

What is Confidentiality?

When you come to the counseling center, you will be asked for information about yourself, what brings you to the counseling center, and what your goals might be for counseling. Our staff and practitioners keep all of your information confidential. This means that your information will not be shared with other people, unless you provide your counselor or another staff member with your permission to share your information. In the state of Utah, there are a few exceptions to confidentiality. We will work with you and possibly consult with other professionals if you:

  • Indicate that you may harm yourself or another person.
  • Report knowledge of ongoing abuse of children, the elderly, or individuals with a disability.
  • Disclose that you have recently contracted a communicable disease. 

Outside of these three situations, you can rest assured that whatever you talk about in counseling is kept private, safe, and confidential.

Services we offer.

University of Utah Resources and Connections 

The International Center

International Admissions

Global Pathways

US Sino Pathways

Cross Cultural Club

Associated Students of the University of Utah

Salt Lake City Resources and Connections

In Sync Translation Service

Linguistica International (translation service)

Refugee and Immigrant Center of Utah

International Rescue Committee – Salt Lake City Chapter

Immigration Lawyers in SLC

Last Updated: 6/20/24