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How to cope with racial discrimination abroad

Try and understand the real causes behind someone’s discriminatory attitude

education Updated: Nov 02, 2011 10:43 IST
Samir Parikh

Lots of students go abroad for higher studies. There are times when people feel they are being discriminated against in a new and unfamiliar environment. It is important to try and understand why this happens and how one can cope with it.

1 It takes time for people to know you: Always remember that people do not always know and understand you from the first instance that they come across you. So, give them time and space.

2 Do not take stereotypical views personally: Sometimes people have their own biases about nations, their people and alien cultures. When that bias affects their opinion of you, it is important not to take it personally. Try not to attach much meaning to them or let them affect your mood.

3 Respect the culture of the new place: Give due respect to the culture of the host country.
We must first give respect to earn respect. Try and blend into the community by understanding their cultural mores, values and beliefs.

4 Talk to a counsellor: If you are finding things difficult and it interferes with your daily functioning, do not hesitate to talk to a counsellor and solicit advice and guidance on how to tackle the situation in a more efficient manner.

5 Stay in touch with your family: Maintaining close contact with family and friends back home helps one tide over the adjustment process quickly and effectively, and looking at things from a fresher perspective.

6 Focus on studies : Never lose sight of why you are there — for an education. Remain focused and stay on top of your studies. This will also help you maintain your self-confidence.

7 Do socialise: Never shy away from meeting new people. Utilise every available opportunity to know others. This is an important part of adjusting to the new environment and would only benefit you in the long run.

8 Involve authority in case of a problem: In case a situation impedes your work and well-being, involve a person who is in a position of authority. Do not see this as a sign of weakness. Take whatever help is available to ensure your stay there is comfortable.

The author is a psychiatrist, and chief, Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Max Healthcare