A Warm Welcome to our International Students!
As an international student you bring a unique perspective to the Pratt Institute community. Your experiences and ideas help to enrich the Pratt environment and in turn, you may take back the new skills and concepts that you learn here with you to your home country. As a result, college is often an exciting time for international students. However, sometimes international students experience challenges as they adjust to the culture of Pratt, New York City, and the United States.
Some unique stressors that international students may face include:
- Culture shock (coping with cultural differences between the home country and the new country)
- Distance from family, friends, or romantic partners living in their home country
- Differences in the type of food available
- Difficulty with the English language
- Adjusting to the American educational system
- Feeling isolated from peers because of cultural differences or language issues
- Learning about American laws, financial institutions and policies, transportation systems, etc.
- Visa issues
You may find that you adjust to your new environment rather easily, or you may notice that it takes a few months or longer until you feel comfortable. It is normal to experience some level of stress and feel overwhelmed, anxious, lonely, sad, confused, or angry at times. However, it is important to recognize when the stress that you are experiencing becomes so intense that you may benefit from some assistance.
Some signs that you may be experiencing a health crisis are:
- Intense or prolonged feelings of anxiety or depression
- Thoughts of suicide
- Thoughts of injuring yourself or others
- Physical changes, such as extreme weight loss or weight gain
- Falling sick often
- Difficulty sleeping or changes in sleeping patterns
- Inability to control your emotions
- Loss of enjoyment in things you normally like to do
- Isolating yourself from others
- Difficulty concentrating
- Low grades or missing classes
- Alcohol or drug abuse
If you are experiencing a health crisis or you are in need of support, there are many options:
- Many students find that scheduling an appointment with one of our counselors at Health and Counseling Services is extremely helpful. All of our counselors are sensitive to cultural differences and have worked with international students before. Please read our information on how to make an appointment.
- Students who notice changes in their physical health or have questions about medical treatment can schedule an appointment with one of our nurses or medical providers.
- Share your concerns with people in your life, such as family members, friends, professors, academic advisors, your RA or RD, or roommates.
- Get academic support from your professors, graduate assistants, academic advisors, the Writing and Tutorial Center, the Learning/Access Center, or the Intensive English Program.
- For questions about taking time off from school, Visa related concerns, or policies pertaining to international students please contact the Office of International Affairs.
- If you are feeling stressed out or anxious, relaxation techniques may be helpful. Please see our Stress Relief Self-help section for audio and video recordings of relaxation exercises.
- If you are feeling suicidal, please read our information on suicide prevention.
- If you need immediate help, please read our information on emergencies.
Myths about Counseling
If you are interested in talking to a counselor, but you have concerns that prevent you from scheduling an appointment, it may be helpful to read the information below:
- You may have been told that counseling is for “crazy” people. This is not true. Millions of Americans seek counseling for all kinds of problems, including academic stress, relationship issues, difficulty adjusting to a new environment, the loss of a loved one, etc. Most people notice improvement after a few sessions and feel empowered and more motivated.
- You may be concerned that professors, students, or family members will be informed that you are in counseling. This is not true. There are laws in the U.S. that prohibit counselors from disclosing to others that you are in counseling without your consent.
- You may believe that you will get in trouble if you talk about certain things, like drug use or feeling angry at someone. Again, your information will remain confidential. (There are some exceptions to this rule, particularly when there is strong evidence that you or others are in immediate danger. In these situations, the counselor is obligated by law to protect you and/or others from harm.) The counselor will review the limits of confidentiality with you before your meeting begins and you are welcome to ask any questions that you may have.
- If you seek counseling, it will not show up on your transcript or school records.
- You may believe that you are “weak” if you cannot handle your problems on your own. This is false. It is the same as seeking help from a medical professional for a medical problem that you cannot address on your own.
- If you need to speak to someone immediately and cannot wait for an appointment, you can walk in to the office during business hours and ask to meet with a counselor, or you can contact your RA or RD.
- Remember that the counselors have experience in helping students just like you!