Home sha 12 Causes of Stress for International Students Worldwide

12 Causes of Stress for International Students Worldwide

Ever found yourself in a situation where your to-do list seems endless, deadlines are fast approaching and you feel stressed? That’s totally normal as stress is a process, not a diagnosis.

Stress occurs when there’s an imbalance between the demands being made on us and our resources to cope with them. The level and extent of stress a person may feel depends largely on their attitude to a particular situation. An event that may be extremely stressful for one person can be a mere hiccup for another person. Here are some of the causes of stress for international students globally.

You may feel under pressure to do something and fear that you may fail. The more important the outcome, the more stressed you feel. You can feel stressed by external situations such as too much work, assignments, thesis, project. Internal triggers such as the way you think about external situations also cause stress. Mounting social and academic pressures mean that higher education can be a challenge for many students. A Uni Health study found that 80% of those studying in higher education reported symptoms of stress or anxiety. In a similar vein, one NUS survey found that nine in 10 students experienced stress.


Stress occurs when a person feels that the demands made on them exceed their ability to cope. Some causes of work stress for international students might include:

  • Environment (work, home, school).
  • Lifestyle.
  • Emotional and personal problems.
  • Being unhappy with your job.
  • Having a heavy workload or too much responsibility.
  • Working long hours.
  • Having poor time management, unclear expectations of your work, or no say in the decision-making process.
  • Working under dangerous conditions.
  • Being insecure about your chances of advancement or risk of termination.
  • Having to give speeches in front of your colleagues.
  • Facing discrimination or harassment at work or school.
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Most times, the pressure to get international education, the cost and the responsibilities that go with it cause stress. For many students, a poor work-life balance is a huge contributing factor to mental health issues and stress. However, stress isn’t only rising among undergraduates. A report commissioned by the Higher Education Policy Institute revealed that staff referrals to counselling and occupational health services have soared over recent years. The culture of academia is unstructured and performance-driven, often lending itself to overwork which eventually leads to stress.

For masters and PhD students who also teach, the lines between work and leisure-time are often blurred leaving them stressed oftentimes.

There’s also a lot of invisible stuff you need to do to become employable; you have to be involved in conferences, teaching, networking. Your responsibilities increase the older you get in academia, but of course, you’re still living as a student with not nearly enough to actually live on.”

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Effects of Stress on Students

Stress affects us in many ways, including:

  • Emotionally – anxiety, depression, tension, anger.
  • The way we think – poor coordination and concentration, forgetfulness, indecisiveness, apathy, hopelessness.
  • Behaviourally – increased drinking and smoking, insomnia, accident proneness, weight problems, obsessive-compulsive behaviour, nervousness, gambling.

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