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That type of integration and collaboration across nationalities can be critically important to a foreign student's college experience, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of California—Los Angeles known as the "2009 Assessment of International Students and Scholars."
Among UCLA students and scholars surveyed, those who lived and interacted with peers of other nationalities reported both higher satisfaction with their collegiate experience and fewer health and wellness needs than those who only associated with others from their home countries. Having friends from your cultural background can act as a needed safety net, says study author Shideh Hanassab, but pushing your boundaries and making new friends are crucial, too.
"The research gives a signal loud and clear: Find ways to break out of your comfort zone," says Bob Ericksen, director of the UCLA Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars,home to programming such as Global Siblings, where foreign students find domestic mentors. "Get out of your box and get involved with the larger campus community."
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