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Mental Health

Dealing With Anticipatory Anxiety as an International Student

Coming to Seattle from thousands of miles away, I didn’t know what to expect. A new country, new culture, new people, my whole life seemed to have changed within a few days. At that time, this was an adventure that I had been impatiently waiting to experience. This change was much needed and the best part about it was that I knew it was coming. But ever since Covid hit, things have become more uncertain. After just six months of being on campus, I’m expecting to graduate next year and I don’t feel prepared for this next step in my life at all. 

Everything is still so new for me. I barely had time to process my new life in Seattle before I had to go back to my old one. And soon, I’ll be thrown into a completely different environment and not knowing about it kills me inside. I keep wondering if I’ll still be in Seattle, if I’ll have to go back home again or if I’ll be in a completely different part of the world. As an international student, it’s hard to navigate and plan your future because change becomes a part of your daily routine. And, it feels even worse if you have to go back against your will. Since I’m an Art major, my student visa only permits me to stay in the US to find a job within a year (as compared to science majors who get three years). With high competition in the Fine Arts industry, I become fearful about my chances of landing a job. On top of that, being an expat in my home country during these trying times makes it harder to know if my home will still be my home years later. But, this is a risk that my parents and I took to ensure my happiness and we’ll just have to wait to see what is to come.

Yes, this makes me anxious and keeps me up at night. And yes, there is also a tinge of excitement that accompanies my nervousness. I just try to have faith in myself and know that I can make the best out of every situation, especially because I’m pursuing my dream career. Every new door that opens for me opens for a reason, just like any door that shuts. I hope that the path I have to take would be the one that brings me the most success and joy, no matter where I am in this world. It’s always been hard for me to accept change but I chose to expose myself to the possibility of change and I should prepare myself to deal with it.

Just like many other international students, I wanted to travel to the US to study because the quality of education where I come from isn’t that great. We all want that opportunity to prove ourselves and not be limited by other factors. And, I’m lucky to have gotten that. If I make the most out of my education and experience, I’m sure my qualifications would help me in my job prospects anywhere in this world. 

I know that international students face so many other issues regarding visa, tuition, etc. that our college experience becomes less enjoyable. I hope that every international student prides themselves in their bravery and capabilities to have achieved what they have this far and take time out for themselves as an escape from this complicated world.

Mahak Saxena

Washington '23

Mahak is a sophomore at UW, majoring in Interdisciplinary Visual Arts. She enjoys designing, listening to music, taking photos and learning about Astronomy. She aspires to work in the fashion industry and create representation for minorities.
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