You don’t have to suffer alone when studying abroad. Source: Shutterstock.com
Studying overseas can be a rocky experience. Although there are lots of exciting experiences to discover and adventures to be had, leaving your friends, family and culture to study abroad can leave you feeling stranded.
It can be easy to feel isolated when studying away from home, but remember there are plenty of other students who are also searching for a lifeline both at your university and online.
Your friends and family are always only a phone call away, but if you need support closer to your new home, here are the best people to turn to…
International student support departments
Lots of universities have dedicated international support departments, specially trained to deal with the academic and pastoral issues overseas students face.
This team is solely interested in making sure you have everything you need to ensure you are settling into your new home.
If you have an academic problem, the department can help point you to the right person to speak to, help you understand any tricky forms and even check your English on important documents.
They may not be miracle workers, but they will do their damnedest to help you any way they can… after all that’s their job!
Keep an eye out at Freshers Fair for your home country’s society. Most universities have country-specific societies to celebrate its culture. Chances are many of the people in your country’s society will be from there as well, so you can be part of a ready-made community of people who understand how you are feeling.
Social events focusing on the food and music of your home – and shared stories about growing up there – will hopefully ease some homesickness and might even help you to appreciate your culture even more.
Societies are also a great way to make new friends. You already have a shared interest with everyone there and the social events provide a relaxed situation to talk to people.
Your academic tutor
If you have a personal academic tutor at your university, you can schedule some one-on-one time with them to chat through any issues you have. Remember that they were students once, so while they may seem like your academic superior, they can relate to how you are feeling.
Talking to your tutor face-to-face will give you the opportunity to have an honest conversation with them about your struggles and receive feedback on how you’re doing. But if you’re feeling shy, you can also reach out to them by email to avoid any awkward silences.
They will be invaluable for any academic queries you have on how to use the library or constructive criticism on your coursework. They are there to help you, so make sure to reach out to them if you want some extra support.
Student ‘family’ schemes
To help settle homesickness, some universities run ‘family’ schemes where you are given student ‘parents’ from the years above you. They are good people to talk to if you are struggling academically or socially, as they have experience of university life.
They will be able to give you advice on how to navigate difficult lectures, how to use the library resources and introduce you to their friends. Sometimes a fellow student who has been in your position before can offer you advice that goes beyond the information in the student handbook. They might not be able to answer all your queries, but they will likely have insider knowledge on tons of issues.