During Orientation week, aka the first week at Tufts, freshmen and transfer students are introduced to various resources the university provides. I particularly remember attending the virtual session, “Mental Health Matters: An Introduction to Tufts Counseling and Mental Health Service (CMHS)”. As exciting and fun the past orientation events were, I, an
extroverted introvert, was starting to feel a little overwhelmed by a sudden influx of new information and constant socialization.
Along with this transitional shock, I personally faced multiple layers of additional change: as an international transfer student – born and raised in Seoul, Korea and having spent my first college experience in California – nearly everything at Tufts felt different. Weather, PWI (predominantly white institution), liberal arts focus, the northeast culture, the list goes on. Therefore, when I heard a CMHS student rep, a POC student who also grew up in California, sharing how he had
navigated the resources from CMHS to better transition to Tufts, it really resonated with me. A few weeks into class, I sat down and made an action plan to explore what CMHS offers. Since it would have been my first-ever therapy experience, I wanted to start from the small steps and gradually immerse myself in the world of counseling.
My first step was to schedule a 15-minute “Ask a Counselor” telephone consultation. Pretty much self-explanatory, I found a time when I could talk to a counselor for 15 minutes on phone. I actually didn’t go in with a concrete topic to discuss; I just wanted to talk to someone and ask for advice on how to go about CMHS’ resources. Coincidentally and fortunately, the counselor on duty during my call was a multicultural specialist with a focus on AAPI and International identity. During the call, the counselor introduced me to an upcoming themed group session on being an international student. (The topics of these group sessions range from body image to perfectionism. I hope to attend different ones next semester!) As I participated in that session, I was able to engage in fruitful discussions and meet other international students who had similar thoughts about their identities.
The next step for me was to schedule an individual counseling appointment. You have the option to continue with the same counselor or change depending on your preferences and needs. It usually runs for 45 minutes either on Zoom or in-person and as the 15-minute call, you can talk about basically anything. I decided to stay with the same counselor and expand our previous discussions of the intersectionality in my international and Asian identity.
It surely has been a learning journey for me to keep reminding myself to actively find time amidst all the busy schedules with class and work to prioritize mental health. Since they don’t have deadlines unlike my other assignments, it was so much easier for me to overlook my need to talk to counselors and learn more about myself. However, I’m glad I was able to explore CMHS and start my journey in mental health.