General Knowledge About Nostalgia And Stress Of Foreign Students At Fpt University, Hoa Lac, Vietnam

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Abroad studying have become popular for everybody in the past few decades. Especially at the moment, you are able to do the entrance test, seek for scholarship and apply registration to many famous universities in the world such as Harvard University, Standford University, Oxford University, University of Cambridge, Princeton University,…a lot more easily than two hundred years ago, as long as your ability and financial stability reach the requirements.

There is a great number of high school students dreaming about abroad studying after graduating as a chance to approach great education systems, widen their social relationship along with having better jobs in a better working condition, or it may be just very simple, they want to understand more about culture and people of the place, where they are going to spend four or five years of their being-a-university-student life. In Vietnam, FPT University is one of the leading university in the information technology field and becomes an ideal choice for foreign students who care about technology and related majors.

In fact, they always have a careful plan before going: Learning English or the native language, looking for information of the university and local locations, changing their daily habits in order to adapt with new environments,…Of course, abroad studying might bring grateful emotions in the beginning. However, when the honeymoon phase of culture shock is over, they will have to face these two unavoidable experiences during their first year of abroad studying: Nostalgia and stress. This research will provide an overview of nostalgia and stress statement among first-year foreign students at FPT University, which might become the foundation for any further studies in the future aiming to improve student well-being.

Purpose statement

Nostalgia, as known as “homesickness”, is “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past” (LEXICO, Oxford Dictionaries). Nostalgia is usually triggered by depressing situations such as loneliness, isolation, downhearted mood and alienation,…( Sedikides, C., Wildschut, T., Arndt, J., & Routledge, C., 2008), lots of which university freshmen will come across when studying abroad.

Though delivering various impacts to students life, typically they are more positive effects than the negative one, like raising self-respect, refreshing closeness of existential relationships, having positive thinking,…, these influences of nostalgia are still lightly considered by both foreign students and FPT University managers. As a result, detailed information of FPT University foreign freshmen’s nostalgia still remain unknown.

On the other hand, being defined as “a physical and emotional reaction that people experience as they encounter changes in life”, according to National Institute of Heath – U.S.Department of Health and Human Service, Stress usually connects to negative impacts for well-being such as anxiety, depression and other mental disorders. Stress has HUGE effects on EVERYONE – no matter who you are, it just finds its way to present itself in your life, slowly but dangerously. Nonetheless, different external and internal elements, like ages, personality, family background,…will make individuals feel stress differently.

Considering that stress among young people has been increasing rapidly and becoming one of the most reasons for having suicidal intention of college students, which was pointed out by Anna, R., Alecksandra, R.K., Lukasz, L., Krzystof, L. (2016), Farhah, A., Abbas, S., Khaled, A., Sajjad, S., Hanieh, K. (2013) and Nasrin, I., Mohsen, A., Reza, G. J., Shabnam, H.(2010), and, along with many other bad behaviours, more serious studies aiming to get a better understanding about stress experiences of FPT University freshmen need to be conducted.

Due to those previous reasons, the purpose of this research is to provide the very first knowledge about nostalgia and stress experience of foreign students in their first year studying at FPT University. To be more specific, these following research questions will be addressed:

  1. How do study foreign students at FPT University describe their feelings when they experience nostalgia?
  2. What is the major reason causing stress among foreign students?
  3. Are there any significant association between nostalgia/ stress and background information of foreign students (Gender, age, personality, nationality or major,…)?


The result of this research can be used as foundation information of nostalgia and stress along with their related problems for any further studies which intend to find solutions to make a healthy living and working environment at FPT University. The target might be widened in the future, not only foreign students but also foreign teachers and officers as well. Particularly, the research contains the following sub-objective:

  1. To review living/studying/working conditions at FPT University and stress status of first-year foreign students.
  2. To asset the influence of nostalgia and stress to first-year foreign FPT University students lives
  3. To develop a system of treatment which can maximize positive effects and reduce negative impacts of nostalgia and stress among foreign freshmen at FPT University

Literature Review

Beiter, R., Nash, R., McCrady, M., Rhoades, D., Linscomb, M., Clarahan, M., Sammut, S. (2014) conducted a quantitative study to find out the main concerns leading to depression, anxiety and stress of college students by using data collected from 374 university students at the ages of 18 to 24 at Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio through a demographic-question survey, a rating section and a questionnaire based on Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS21). The results showed that the top three potential threats leading to stress, anxious and depressed situation among students came from the desire of yearning for academic achievement, success pressure and plans after graduating. Furthermore, major victims of these negative mental issues were transferred students, senior students and those who living outside the university campus.

In 2007, Anna, S., Mark, H. and Jane, W. administered research to investigate the amount of changed weight of Britain student when learning their first year at university and test whether stress is one of the causing reasons. Data was collected from 268 volunteers at the age of 18-25 (100 men and 168 women) who are students attending at University College London through cross-sectional survey and questionnaire in the period of 2 weeks, which including followings questions: Whether you were “gained weight”, “lost weight” or “neither”; How often you weigh yourself? (Daily to Never) ; Assessing your smoking habits, meal patterns, exercise, alcohol and hours of sleep per night during the first year at university.

The research results suggested that stress had a huge effect on the risk of both gaining weight and losing weight of university freshmen in Britain. Especially, female students were suffered from these influence worse than male students due to their greater chance of getting high levels of stress.

Bas Verplanken (2012) conducted an experiment with the participation of 192 volunteers (56 high school students, 128 university students and 8 non-students / 50 men, 139 women and 3 unknown) at the average age of 23.1. Data was collected through an online survey, which included an emotion rating (negative, neutral or positive) and open-ended questions, to measure the level of worry and approve that nostalgia brought not only positive effects but also negative impacts. It appeared that those who were affected by nostalgia would show the symptoms of panic and misery more than those who were not, in the case of the mentioned individual that they were suffered from bad experience from the past.

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The consequence following after nostalgia might lead to stress or a struggle status which made it difficult to the victims could return to the normal statement. After the study, the author suggested several solutions for improving negative situations, such as “more present-oriented time perspective, such as mindfulness” could be a good way to help habitual worriers ease the painful feelings.

In 1985, Shirley Fisher, Keith Murray and Norman A. Frazer performed a scientific project to investigate the link between homesickness and the well-being and learning outcome of first-year university students. Data was gathered through questionnaires and face-to-face interview including two questions: whether students have homesickness or not, and what was the major cause of homesickness, with the participation of 101 freshmen (40 females, 60 males, 1 unknown at the age from 18 to 64) of University of Dundee, Dundee.

The volunteers also included 25 upperclassmen (15 females and 10 males at the age from 19 to 56). In 60% answers reported positive to homesickness, the further results pointed out that geographical distance, lack of self-satisfaction with the new environment and personality were the main reasons leading homesickness. Likewise, homesickness showed association with failing score along with negative behaviors of university freshmen, such as bad eating habits.

Though previous studies mentioned about many factors of both nostalgia and stress, there are still gaps about information for a specific target – FPT University foreign students.


Research approach

The overall ambition of this research is to acknowledge and understand foreign students feelings when facing nostalgia and stress experience during their first year at FPT University.

Due to the fact that, the research tempts to collect pure numerical data. As a result, the quantitative research method is suggested. An online cross-sectional survey might grant a higher chance to approach a greater number of foreign students at FPT University, provide historical facts along with protecting their personal information.


Considering the population of 150, a convenience sample of 50 will be recruited from undergraduate foreign students group (First year or post-first year) who are studying or working at FPT University with a various background (Gender, age, personality, ethnicity and major,…. )

The participant will be chosen randomly among foreign students groups at FPT University in order to provide honest respondses from volunteers.

All attending volunteers will be rewarded with a code of book vouchers. Further analysis of nostalgia and stress can be conducted base on those different background elements.


Phase 1: Preparation

Questions in the survey should be considered carefully before sending to participants in order to avoid any misunderstanding or culture offense. Reserved questions are also added for reducing response bias.

All the questions are approved by Student Well-fare Department of FPT University. A pilot test with the sample size of 10 is conducted one week before the official day to examine the validity of survey questions and any arise elements.

Phase 2: Collecting the data

The process of collecting data from target students is scheduled in the period of three days. The link of the Google Forms survey is going to be published on the facebook group of FPT University students (FU Hoa Lac) during the process.

Phase 3 : Analysis

After gathering response from participation, all collected data will be estimated by IBM SBSS Statistic 24 for Windows and Mac software.

In total, the higher the score is, the more positive they feel when foreign students experience nostalgia and stress.

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