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How the weather affects your international study experience

Rain or shine? Source: Matthew Henry on Unsplash

New research by the University of California, Los Angeles has found that hot weather impairs students’ learning abilities. For every one degree (°F) increase in temperature, student learning is decreased by by one percent a year.

The decline in learning starts at 75 degrees fahrenheit (23.8 degrees celsius) “but becomes really problematic at 85, 90 and above,” according to the research co-authored by UCLA Luskin Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Jisung Park.

“A lot of that seems to be because of different rates of air conditioning, both at school and at home.”

This finding sheds light on a problem many international students face, ie. adjusting to their new study destination’s climate. For a student from a year-round tropical climate like Malaysia, it can be disorienting to plunge straight into the harsh winters of Minnesota. Similarly, for a Brit used to a dry climate, it can be hard to adjust to Indonesia’s year-round humidity.

Research has shown that it isn’t just rising temperature that impacts students’ academic success. Rain, shine, spring, summer, hot, cold – they can all affect your college experience, academically or otherwise.

Source: Giphy

And for international students, not knowing how to dress for winter or a drier climate only adds to the frustration.

“Is it worth it?” you think to yourself. “Should I even go to class?”

Naturally, this wrecks your mood and motivation – studies have shown how high levels of humidity can cause college students to lose focus and report increased levels of sleepiness. Another found high humidity caused a drop in vigor, elation and affection.

With more sunshine, however, they reported less anxiety and skepticism, feeling more optimistic about life. But as the UCLA research above displays, too much and you can run into trouble.

For these reasons, prospective international students may want to dig deep when researching the intricate idiosyncrasies of the climate where their chosen college or university is located.

Source: Giphy

More research on the climate and how it changes around the year would be a helpful start for international students. Speaking to seniors or former students from the same home country would be ideal as they would be able to offer first-hand accounts of their experience transitioning from their home country to host country and provide valuable insight on how you can best deal with this situation.

But be aware that while climate can have significant impact on your college experience, it shouldn’t be the ultimate decider on where you choose to go to college. Dont’ forget other concerns as well – like teaching quality, graduation rates, access to professors, etc!

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