By Stephanie Wicburg
As someone who has experienced instances of almost crippling anxiety in my life, I know that the avoidance of these issues in conversation is a fact. Stress and anxiety are just not things that society addresses. If someone wants to discuss them, it is often either with a professional, or not at all.
For me, the amount of preparation it takes to even do something as simple as making a phone call or socializing with people I don’t know is staggering. And yet, through my years, I have learned to cope with this part of my life. I have learned how to be able to function when I feel like I can’t breathe and how to push past it.
But imagine if I were put in a totally new environment. An environment in which I knew barely anyone. A place with a culture entirely different from my own, with a language that I do not natively speak. I have personally never been in this situation, but all the students I have worked with through ALI’s Conversation Groups are experiencing this as I type.
A new place can be incredibly hard to adjust to. I know that it took me several weeks to adjust to USC when I first moved here just last August, and during those weeks, there were several moments when my anxiety took over, and it felt like every little thing was just absolutely overwhelming. Fortunately, however, I had friends and family who I could talk to, as well as an incredibly supportive roommate, and all of the coping methods which I have developed through the years. These support systems are not something everyone has, however. Not everyone is taught or is able to figure out ways to help their anxiety, and so stressful situations, such as moving to an entirely new country, can just be beyond overwhelming.