Peer Chats: Mental Health While Abroad
October 1, 2021
Angelique Acuna ‘22 is a Peer Advisor in the Center for Global Education. She will be earning two degrees with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies. Angelique participated in CEA Paris – Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Spring 2020.
For anyone, studying abroad is a huge step outside one’s comfort zone. I know when I studied abroad in Spring 2020 in Paris, France, it was mentally one of the most challenging things I have ever done.
I am originally from Long Beach, California, which is about a twenty-minute drive from Chapman. I am a big family person and enjoy seeing my family often; most importantly, if something were to happen to any of my family members, I would only be a short drive away.
Therefore, this played a factor when I chose to attend Chapman University. Before studying abroad, I had never left California for more than two weeks at a time. While I am fortunate enough to have family in Paris, I have never left my immediate family for that long.
During my time studying abroad, I picked a program with not many other Chapman students. There were only about two other Chapman students in my program, and I was not very close to them. I found myself not socializing with others in my program. I am someone who tends to be a social butterfly when in an environment I am comfortable in; therefore, being in this type of situation was very uncommon for me. Usually, whenever I had moments of being anxious, I would simply call my parents and I could see them (or see my dogs) in a half-hour. While abroad, that half an hour drive turned into an almost eleven-hour plane ride. During my time I had instances of wanting to go home or feel like I could not emotionally make it through the whole semester. I eventually wanted to seek therapy to overcome these feelings but did not know where to start. Could I even receive therapy abroad?
CAN YOU RECEIVE THERAPY ABROAD?
Simple answer, yes you can. But now you may wonder, “how does one find a therapist abroad?” When contemplating this same question, I first approached my on-site advisor. I told her my situation and she reminded me that the on-site advisors were always there to help. They recommended two therapists other students have talked to in the past. I was very nervous about the language barrier; however, the two who were recommended to me spoke English. I emailed the therapist who I thought was best fit and the process from there was fairly simple.
HOW DO I PAY FOR IT?
Health insurance coverage for mental health may be included in your program, depending on the country or program you go to. The process for me included paying out of pocket for my session, but receiving a receipt, taking a picture of it, and sending it to my insurance for reimbursement. Overall, if this is a concern, your program will help you figure out the best solution for you. They even offered to cover the session if I could not pay out of pocket right away.
I found going to a therapist abroad very comforting. It was similar to putting a pause on all the chaos occurring during my abroad experience. If you are hesitant to study abroad due to mental health issues or are anxious about the overall experience, just know there are so many options and people willing to support you!