Being an international student is challenging. While there are many adjustments that need to be made in terms of food, accommodation and learning style, perhaps the biggest challenge of all is building resilience as an international student. Without resilience, students will start missing classes and fall behind in their studies. When this happens, the educational opportunity may be lost forever.

So what is resilience? According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary, resilience can be defined as follows

Resilience: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

Recovery and adjustment are some of the key words here. In other words, students need to be able to deal with the unexpected set back they may face and keep moving forward.

Let’s have a look at possible challenges that students need to deal with:

  • Not getting a visa in time to make the start of your course
  • Not finding accommodation which is close enough to the college campus
  • Living with people you don’t know
  • Not having enough money to pay for the books and computer equipment needed to study successfully
  • Not being able to get a job in your new city
  • Being overwhelmed with feelings of homesickness

All of these challenges are stressful. The main issues comes, however, when these issues are compounded by happening at the same time. In English there is an idiom that says when people face major challenges, they can choose ‘fight or flight’.

Fight means keeping strong and pushing ahead despite the difficulties. This is exactly the attitude needed by international students. This is the resilient attitude.

The alternative is ‘flight’. In this case, the student will decide it is all too hard and will give up. Flight means leaving. While this might be the only way to handle some situations, it is certainly not the attitude that will bring success.

Ultimately, the majority of students will be able to overcome to challenges. After all, they are often aged in their late teens and early twenties and are capable of pushing through hardships. The spirit of being young and ambitious is enough to give them the resilience required for success.

Building resilience as an international student is a powerful life skill to learn. Not only that, it builds the exact skills that are required in many modern workplaces. Because being resilient is something that all workers need to solve complex problems and work independently.

So, there is an upside to building resilience as an international student. In fact, it might be the best characteristic you develop while learning in a foreign land.