Studying in another country is an exciting experience, but it is also a time of challenging change, adjustment, and stress. The University of Windsor is rolling out a service to help its students — those coming from abroad and those on international exchange — to cope.
The Keep.meSAFE Student Support Program is tailored to provide connections 24 hours a day to licensed and trained counsellors who can provide advice on:
- adapting to new cultures;
- success in studies;
- relationships with family and friends;
- everyday issues while studying abroad;
- stress, anxiety, loneliness, and more.
The best part, says Student Counselling Centre clinical director Mohsan Beg, is that the conversations take place immediately in five languages in addition to English.
“This program talks to these students where they are,” he says. “They can speak over the phone, chat online, text, and find resources on an Apple or Android device, their laptop, or home computer.”
Advisors and supporting materials are available in English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, or Spanish. If a student would like to speak to someone in a different language, Keep.meSAFE can access licensed counsellors in up to an additional 30 languages.
And it’s more than just language, Dr. Beg says.
“These counsellors understand the cultures of the students, both back home and because they have international study experience themselves,” he says. “They are able to relate to what our international students are going through being so far from home — on many levels.”
Beg notes that the service is also being made available to University of Windsor students who are currently on exchange: “We know studying abroad can be a challenge.
“As all of the counsellors speak English, we felt that Keep.meSAFE’s accessibility would be a great option for our domestic students who are experiencing cultural or emotional challenges but in reverse, namely being a Canadian in a foreign country.”
He is proud that the University of Windsor is the first institution in Ontario to offer this service to all its international students.
“Our counselling services help a good many students, but this program is especially tailored to the unique needs of those coming from outside Canada,” says Beg. “We expect it will be valuable to some that may have been reluctant to seek our assistance, for whatever reason.”
To learn more, visit www.keepmesafe.org, download the free My SSP app, or phone 1-844-451-9700.