Moving and adjusting to a new country, state, city, language, and culture can be both exciting and difficult. Although you might be getting to see a whole new part of the world, there may still be difficult thoughts and feelings in regards to being away from your environment and loved ones. The counselors at the University Counseling Center (UCC) fully comprehend that these are challenging times and are aware of the many ways that being from another culture can impact your time here at Notre Dame. The UCC is committed to and has a longstanding history of assisting our international students in making the best out of their time here at the University of Notre Dame.
We totally understand that talking to a counselor might not be a common practice where you are from, and this might lead to difficulties in reaching out for help. Many international students may be faced with challenges that impact their ability to enjoy their time here or advance in academic success.
From all of the staff at the UCC, we want you to know:
We are here for you!
We want to get to know you!
We can understand you!
Most commonly asked questions by ND international students coming to UCC:
Are counseling services appropriate for me?
The University Counseling Center provides you with emotional and psychological support. If you have encountered any difficulties in your acculturation process and would like to have a safe place to process your feelings and reactions, we are here for you! We also provide referrals to other on-campus partners if your needs can be addressed and served by their areas of expertise. If you are not sure if counseling services are appropriate for you, give us a call at 574-631-7336. Our on-call counselor is happy to talk to you about resources that can best meet your needs.
What problems do international students often talk about with a counselor at UCC?
- Adjusting to major differences in the academic system
- Difficulties with communication and making relationships
- Missing home (homesickness)
- Difficulties surrounding language differences
- Problems interacting with professors, advisors, or employers
- Concerns about family relationships from a long-distance
- Dealing with others’ misperceptions about your culture or country
- Finding that some people are prejudiced against others from different cultures
- Discovering that problems at home are still a problem even though you are in a new environment
Many of the challenges listed above are related to the adjustment process. These experiences can be common and normal. Click the following link to learn more about cultural shock and the adjustment process for international students:
A Brief Look Into Cultural Shock and Adjustment Process
There has been a rise in racism and microaggressions against international students in the past couple of months. Here are some resources that can help international students understand and cope with these experiences:
Examples of Microaggressions in the Classroom
What are the differences between counseling and psychiatric services and who is offering them?
At the UCC, we offer both counseling services and psychiatric services. Our counseling services include options for both individual counseling and group counseling. These services are offered by licensed psychologists and clinical social workers, or psychology interns who are under supervision. Sometimes you may also hear people use the term “therapist” or “counselor” to describe these professionals. You and your counselor can work together to decide which service is appropriate for you. If you or your counselor think you may benefit from medication, you may be referred to UCC’s psychiatrists, who are medical professionals specializing in treating psychiatric disorders.
Both counseling and psychiatric services are CONFIDENTIAL and FREE at the UCC, however, you can be responsible for the financial cost of the medications.
How do I talk to a counselor or schedule an appointment?
If you would like to talk to a counselor, please utilize our drop in services. If you have questions about this process, we are just one phone call away! Call us at 574-631-7336 and our support staff will guide you through the process.
What should I expect in the first meeting?
In the first meeting, a counselor will assess your needs and provide recommendations towards the end of the meeting. Based on your needs and your presenting issues, the counselor may recommend individual therapy, group therapy, workshops or/and medications for follow-ups. You can also express your interests and preferences for services during this meeting. The counselor you meet with during this first appointment may or may not be the same person you see for counseling.
What should I expect in follow-up meetings?
You and your counselor will collaborate to develop your counseling goals. In counseling sessions your counselor will provide a safe and non-judgemental space to help you process your feelings and emotions, as well as discuss strategies to solve your problems. The counselor may also offer information which you may need to resolve your problems. Sometimes one counseling session is all that you will need. More often, you will meet regularly until your problem is resolved. Individual and couples counseling sessions are usually 50 minutes. Group counseling sessions are 1.5 hours.
Can anyone find out that I have been to the Counseling Center or find out what I said to the counselor? What is confidentiality?
Everything you tell the counselor is strictly private and confidential. This means that by law the counselor cannot provide anyone with information about you, or your attendance at the UCC, without your written permission. That means that information will NOT go into your academic record and will NOT be given to your parents, your home government, or the U.S. government. The only exceptions to this confidentiality law involve the few times when it is clear that a person’s (your or someone else’s) life is in danger, a child or elderly person is in danger of being harmed by a caregiver, or when information is required by a court of law (i.e., subpoenaed) within the United States. We strive to make counseling a safe space for all, and if you have any questions related to confidentiality please feel free to call or ask a counselor.