A Place for Comfort (Int. Students)
A Place for Comfort (Int. Students)
  • Reporter Chung Yu-sun
  • 승인 2013.11.20 15:24
  • 댓글 0
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Living in a foreign country, international students may feel homesick or lonely from being far apart from their families and friends. Moreover, because they’re exposed to an unfamiliar environment, there may be conflicts in relationships due to cultural differences. For similar reasons, POSTECH Counseling Center provides a counseling program for these students. Though it is well known for the use of Korean students, its use for international students is not so obvious.
At the beginning of each semester, the Counseling Center gives a brief introduction to the incoming international students during their orientation session. After each session, it also hands out brochures in case the students want to contact the center. This fall undergraduate students, graduate students, and researchers (Post doc) have contacted the center. In most cases, students come because of difficulties in relationships. Usually, the students whose nationality is different from the majority of other international students feel more isolated. Furthermore, those who stay in POSTECH for a long time feel more lonely than those who stay at POSTECH for a short time. The underlying reason is that they have to deal with frequent farewells. In the case of researchers, the cultural difference in communicating with the professors can cause a bit of stress. Though the researchers hoped that there could be more discussion about certain decisions, they experienced that once the professors made a final decision, it was the end of the discussion.
What the Counseling Center provides is a place of acknowledgement and subtle advice. First the counselors try to empathize with the students so that they feel that someone understands what they are going through. Otherwise, they try to provide a wider perspective. For example, it might be that one or two incidents tarnished someone’s good reputation.
For international students who are feeling lonely, Chief Counselor Yang, Ji Woong advises students to meet a lot of people. The fact that they departed from their home countries indicates that they are prepared to have a different experience. Instead of being prepared only in the mind, he advises students to be active. For example, students should try to be close to the group they are already part of. They can also actively participate in meetings or events that are held. It is also important to contact their families regularly. Moreover, they should remember that there are a lot of people that they can receive help from, such as the Counseling Center, ISSS, and their Master Professor.
Korean students should be cautious to make sure that they try to make the international students feel involved in events and programs from the beginning to the end. They should try to imagine how they would feel when if they were in an unfamiliar environment.