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International Students and Adjusting during COVID-19

It has been a difficult adjustment for everyone during COVID-19. It has altered our way of life. And, we think that it is important to acknowledge the unique challenges our international students face in adjusting during this time. It can be particularly challenging adjusting to a new environment, culture, campus, and country, let alone during a worldwide pandemic. During such a time a desire to seek familiarity and comfort is instinctual, and a resource that may be unavailable for some of our international students. In addition to this adjustment, the loss and grief experienced due to social distancing and travel restrictions have a particular impact on those who may wish to visit loved ones outside of the United State or their ability to return to campus. Simply not having the option or facing potentially adverse consequences for traveling internationally can be a difficult burden. This pandemic has in many aspects impacted our sense of control and available choices. We greatly value the contributions you make to our campus and want to acknowledge the sacrifices you make to be part of our Boiler community! Below are some resources that may be helpful coping with adjusting during this time.


Resource and Strategies Specifically for Adjusting:

Purdue University: The Graduate College

Purdue University: International Students and Scholars


Strategies for Adjusting to Change

“In basic psychology, ‘adjustment’ is defined as a cognitive strategy which enables a person to adapt to stressful events or a change in circumstances through managing their emotional responses” (CANVAS8, slide 38). How can we adapt to the current changes we may be experiencing?

Building Resilience- Developing self-awareness and self-regulation, support for feelings, strengths and coping strategies, and creating meaning and hope (Baum et al. 2009). Such resilience and utilization of various strengths and strategies may also include adjusting to new technologies. Using online resources like Webex, for example, has been one way that we have utilized technology to adapt to changes on campus. Other resources through Purdue ITAP and other online sources may also be helpful in supporting students adjust to change.

Utilizing Coping Skills- Coping with constraints such as travel restriction and limited social interactions is a unique challenge during this time. It is important to develop strategies to cope with the stress during a pandemic. The CDC has outlined several suggestions in how to utilize coping strategies during a pandemic.

Develop New Healthy Habits and Letting Go of Past Expectations- We often search for familiarity when seeking emotional comfort. Past familiarities, prior to COVID-19, such as attending class or doing work on campus may not be currently feasible. Adjusting to current circumstances may entail amending past expectations and creating new forms of familiarity. Developing a new healthy routine can be very helpful in adjusting. Healthy eating, exercise, and sleeping habits is important in maintaining mental health. Moderating the amount of time on social media and connecting with others in meaningful ways.

Strengthening Social Relationships- Social support and care is a basic need for mental health and wellness. Reaching out to others during this time is very important. Even though we may need to adhere to social distancing recommendations, we can still find new and creative ways to reach out and interact with others, like using online platforms.


References and Additional Resources:

Baum, N. L., Rotter, B., Reidler, E., & Brom, D. (2009). Building resilience in schools in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 2(1), 62-70.

Pandemic Culture Report and Webinar Series courtesy of CANVAS8

Bad Habit Formation and Ways to Adjust courtesy of