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Mental health workshop focuses on Canadore’s international students

Jan 26, 2022 | Cindy Males, Public Relations and Communications Specialist

Stack of textbooks

The concept of mental health is unknown to many international students, but a virtual workshop on January 27th is aiming to change that.

“I’m running the workshop to promote mental health awareness to international students,” said Yen To, International Student Coordinator.  “Since the mental health concept is still unfamiliar to many, I want the students to know that it’s ok to experience a roller coaster of emotions, especially with the added pressures of studying in a different country, and that there are resources available they can access if they need to.”

Yen To is a member of Canadore’s Student Success Services team who coordinates mental health awareness activities and supports for all students.  She has first-hand experience as an international student, coming to Canada in 2018 to study for her Masters in Education at Lakehead University.  Seeing snow for the first time was a big culture shock for her.

“Culture shock creates anxiety but not necessarily at the beginning,” said To.  “There are three phases of culture shock that students may experience: the honeymoon phase, where everything is still new and exciting; the crisis phase, where students start to feel nostalgia and begin seeking comfort such as food or something from their culture; and the last phase, which is the adjustment and recovery phase, where students start to accept the reality and some of them might decide to go back home after studying,” she said.

Yen To will share her experiences, and how she coped, hoping the students will relate. “For my first snow experience, like many people who live in a tropical climate, I thought the snow was beautiful,” she said.  “I still do, but my first winter was terrible. It started snowing before Halloween. We had a snowstorm in December with 30 to 40cm of snow. I remember walking home and seeing snow banks that were taller than me.”  

Yen To said she connected with supports available through her school, as well as community supports that are free to students like Good2Talk.

“I started with the food to cope with my homesickness,” To said.  “I found websites where I could order the ingredients to make my comfort food. I also found that making new friends helped me to deal with anxiety and loneliness.”

The workshop entitled “It’s OK to Feel Stress is being offered on Thursday, January 27, 2022, at 5:00 pm.  International students can register at https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYlc-2spzsqG9CXwu2UZJ00yeLCfMqzyXsr.

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