The world has drastically changed after COVID-19; millions of people are affected by it especially international students. They are at a vulnerable position away from their homeland or at a distance from their universities.
They worry about visa and graduation status, optional practical training opportunities being harder to obtain or cancelled, or whether to go home. Some students worry about living far away from their family, having to find a place to live, self-isolating from other roommates if necessary, and finances.
With little or no support, international students are in a difficult position, but if they receive support from their institutions to cope with their personal and emotional challenges that may become compounded during public crises.
Pandemic challenges for International Students
As the world is under lockdown, everything has stopped, and the situation is not good worldwide. These experiences have to lead to traumatic effects and psychological reactions such as depression, anxiety, etc. International students have been facing challenges to their mental health, and the pandemic has increased these challenges.
The question arises, how can international students cope with this challenging time? The answer is simple; international students can benefit from considering aspects of emotional intelligence both during the pandemic and beyond.
Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist, is a leading expert on emotional intelligence. He has explained how emotional intelligence can help individuals to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power of emotions as a source of information, trust, and influence.
He developed five critical emotional intelligence skills that are linked to everything from making decisions to academic achievement.
It is the ability to recognize and understand your own emotions and be aware of the effect of your actions, moods, and feelings on other people. It develops as we interact, and it enables us to build complex social relationships. Self-awareness can help students note their responses and stressors in a difficult situation such as the pandemic.
Self-regulation is all about expressing your emotions appropriately and regulating and managing your emotions. The capacity to perceive, understand and control one’s own emotions works as an ideal framework to reason and use emotions in reasoning. International students facing a roller coaster of emotions would be well-served in identifying what positive, healthy activities and practices could help find an equilibrium.
3. Social skills:
Social skills refer to building meaningful relationships with others. Social isolation causing psychological distress among international students is expected in this pandemic, and social skills are vital for including vulnerable students during school closures. International students might consider how their social contexts and networks have changed during the pandemic and take steps to ensure that they are still finding meaningful and supportive social connections.
It is about trying to see others’ points of view and consider how others may be feeling. It also allows you to understand the power dynamics that often influence social relationships. International students can benefit from practising empathy with themselves by considering how a caring friend might speak. When students are empathetic to others, they are more likely to work on relationships.
It is about drawing on emotions in positive ways to achieve goals, persevering when meeting obstacles, and enjoying learning processes. Whether international students face pandemic unknowns, grief due to the virus, or financial challenges, look beyond one’s immediate circumstances to a larger picture.
These five components of emotional intelligence play an important role in handling even the most challenging life situations with ease and compassion.
For international students, especially during the pandemic, emotional intelligence is crucial for managing their adaptive processes and regulating their emotions and is essential for better overall health and well-being.