Where should you go if you need help adjusting to life in a new country? If you need advice about your future career? Or if you just want to improve your productivity?

These issues and many more can be addressed in AAU’s newly opened Career, Personal Development & Psychological Counseling Center which launched services to students Feb. 11. School officials aim to put AAU on the map alongside other advanced universities that offer these services.

Dr. Ivana Schmidtova, who directs the center, has degrees in psychology and pharmaceuticals and over a decade of experience in counseling for businesses. Service is free of charge to both students and faculty.

Rather than general tips for stress or time management, Schmidtova encourages students to make an appointment. The idea is to give advice that is “individualized and tailored to each of their needs.”

She believes it’s necessary to talk about issues “in the context of their life.” No two people have had the same experiences so the same advice might not apply to everyone.

Schmidtova also stresses that it isn’t necessary to wait until you have a big problem to come to her. “Many of the services are preventative,” she says, “or could be used as reinforcement. It’s much broader than just deep trouble.”

But students are advised to make an appointment for these issues as well.

“We can’t always anticipate issues like a death in the family,” she explains, and “it’s completely fine to come in and talk to relieve the emotions.” Motivation is key, she adds. “The main requirement is that the person wants to solve a problem and is willing to take small steps to improve.”

Students shouldn’t expect miracles or immediate solutions. Much of the progress will be seen later in life. The aim is to give students the tools for good mental health, which will have an impact on all aspects of their life.

Often students find themselves stressed in a new country after the initial “honeymoon” phase is over. Tips about life in a foreign country can be found at www.northwestern.edu. It offers strategies for dealing with the different stages involved, but sometimes it can be helpful to talk to someone, which is where the counseling center comes in.

In the first appointment, Schmidtova informs students of the conditions such as session length and that everything is confidential except in legal cases, which the students would be warned about in advance.

Students are entitled to up to three 50 minute appointments as a rule, but some exceptions might be made. They are also free to email any issues or topics they wish to discuss in advance, but it isn’t necessary.

Although the center is in early stages, Schmidtova says she was surprised by the response and that students seem to be keenly interested in the project. AAU is committed to improving the services so students are encouraged to try and evaluate.

Schmidtova also encourages students to email her with any recommendations. For now, the office hours are on Monday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and sessions are held in the president’s office, room 106.

Students are strongly encouraged to make appointments two weeks in advance. Contact: ivana.schmidtova@aauni.edu