International Student Guide: Settling In and Meeting People
22 March 2018
Adjusting to life in a new place can be challenging, and the shock of living away from family, often for the first time, can quickly lead to symptoms of homesickness. Here, we provide helpful guidance to combat homesickness and culture shock, as well as practical tips on how to make friends and meet new people as an international student in the UK.
Leaving the family home to live independently is an anxious time for any student, but it can be especially daunting for those travelling to university overseas. Adjusting to life in a new country can be incredibly difficult, with cultural differences, feelings of homesickness and language barriers all compounding the issue of feeling settled and comfortable in your new home.
In your first few weeks as a student in a foreign country, the culture shock alone can make it difficult to feel settled. Adapting to a new climate, different foods and a foreign language can seem impossible while trying to make friends and study, but there are things you can do to overcome uncertainty and homesickness – and make your university transition easier to cope with.
Here, we provide practical tips on settling into university life and ways to get out and meet new people.
Settling In: How to Deal with Homesickness
Below, we look at some of the most effective ways to deal with homesickness and feel settled at university.
Homesickness is a cruel condition that affects many students. It’s often triggered by feelings of missing out on family life and common routines, and a sense of yearning for familiar surroundings. At its worst, homesickness can impact on your studies and lead to declining mental health, so it’s important that you know how to combat it.
- Accept it – Homesickness is only natural and you’re allowed to feel sad about missing home. Accept it, embrace it, but don’t let it rule you; just keep moving forward and those feelings will gradually lessen.
- Talk through it – One of the best ways to deal with homesickness is to share it with your classmates and flatmates. Getting the feelings off your chest will make things easier straight away, and chances are others will feel the same – making the problem seem less of a big deal.
- Establish new routines – If you don’t have a routine, you’re bound to feel unsettled, and this is a precursor to homesickness. Making an effort to establish a routine early on will make your new life seem more normal and easier to accept.
- Don’t phone or go home too early – You may feel like calling home or booking the next available flight, but this won’t help in the long-term. Try to get through at least a month in your new surroundings before disappearing off, or it will never feel like home.
- Get plenty of sleep – Negative thoughts breed on tiredness, so make sure you’re well rested and staying active.
Guidance on Making Friends and Meeting People
One of the biggest anxieties students have about starting university is the question of whether or not they’re going to make friends. For international students whose first language perhaps isn’t English, meeting people can be tricky – though we can say for certain that it will be much easier than you’re expecting it to be.
For students keen to go out and meet like-minded people, there are a near-limitless number of opportunities to do so – and that’s not including the friends you’re almost certain to meet at your accommodation and in class. Below, we outline some of the best ways to get out, meet new people and start to feel more settled in your new home.
- Clubs and societies – In the first couple of weeks of term, you’ll be given the opportunity to join many different clubs and societies, and these are a great opportunity to meet people who you share interests with – be it classical music or English literature.
- English language courses – If you want to brush up on your English skills while meeting people in a similar position to you, look into finding free language courses offered by the university.
- Social media groups – UK universities often have social media pages dedicated to helping people meet one another virtually before or during term – taking the anxiety out of the initial transition period. If you can’t find a group, set one up and we guarantee you’ll quickly meet like-minded people who are also interested in making new friends.
International Student Guide
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