Resilience - What It Means and How to Build It

When you’re an international student, being resilient can help you get through challenging times. But what is it and how can you build it?

8 August 2023

A girl smiling in the rain

Being an international student can be a fun adventure, but it can also come with some challenges. These might be a language barrier, missing your family or trying to balance work and study - all part of what makes your journey unique. 

When you’re more resilient, you won’t let these challenges get you down. Instead, you can use coping strategies, overcome problems and try to make the best of your situation. 

In this blog post, we explain what resilience is and how you can build it.  

What is resilience?  

Resilience is the ability to get through tough times by looking at situations optimistically, being resourceful and using your support networks.  

Resilience is all about coping with everyday stress and being stronger for it. When you’re resilient, you can face hard situations and maintain mental wellness. 

People demonstrate resilience in all sorts of ways. It could be giving yourself a pep talk after a bad day or asking someone for help when you need it.  


Remember that you’re not alone. Wherever you study in Australia, there are international student support services offered by your education provider, city or local community.

How resilience can benefit you 

Resilience can benefit you in many ways, and has even been associated with better academic performance. For example, if you get a low grade on an exam or an assessment, try to see it as an opportunity. Rather than being hard on yourself for getting a poor grade, ask your teacher or lecturer where you went wrong, strive to do better and be open to learning new things.   

If you’re hoping to work while you study, resilience can also benefit you. As a resilient person, you will understand that you’ll likely need to go through many interviews before getting a job. Rejection is very common. You will probably hear “no” a lot before you hear “yes”. It’s important to understand that job rejections aren’t personal – it’s simply the way job hunting works. Keep going! 

Finally, resilience is extremely beneficial for your wellbeing. Practising being positive, grateful and optimistic will build resilience and support mental wellness. Resilient people are more likely to have a good sense of humour, believe things will turn out OK, and are more likely to love and care for themselves (and forgive themselves when they don’t always get things right!). 

How to build your resilience  

So how do you grow into a more resilient person? Luckily, there are steps you can take to do exactly that. 

1. Practise self-care  

Taking care of yourself should be a top priority. Rest, relax, make time for fun and eat well. Balance this by making an effort to challenge yourself and reach your full potential.  

2. Try meditation 

Meditating has proven effects on the brain and stress levels. When you are in a calmer state of mind, you are able to deal with every day problems in a constructive way.  

3. Develop positive self-talk 

A big part of resilience is speaking positively to (and about) yourself. Start to become aware of things you say like “I’m so stupid!” or “I hate the way I look”. Then tell yourself the opposite! Studies have shown that consistently saying positive affirmations can improve your health, self-confidence and even your academic achievements!  

4. Don’t give up  

If something doesn’t go your way, try again. No matter what issues you face, resilience involves making an ongoing effort to achieve your goals.  

5. Create healthy relationships 

Resilience isn’t about handling your stressors all alone. It’s about developing a strong network of support that you can lean on at any time. 

6. Start the day with gratitude

When you wake up in the morning, take a few minutes to think about all the things your grateful for. Even on a bad day, there are so many things to be thankful for – it could be the food you eat, your health or your loved ones. Studies have shown this to have a positive effect on mental health. It will also help you deal with challenges by seeing them in a more positive light.  

Know when to ask for help 

If you are feeling depressed or anxious, make sure you reach out for help. Talk to your education provider or a mental health professional. There are many support services in Australia for international students. 

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