Welcome to our new blog series, Student Voices — where we share advice from current students in order to help the rest of our university community.
First up is Lucia, a third year English Literature and Theatre student at the University of Warwick. As a native Spaniard, Lucia has chosen to open up about the challenge of being an international student, especially during a global pandemic.
So we all know the thought of going to uni for the first time creates a churning feeling of excitement, nervousness and genuine fear. That before phase where you overthink everything and create weird scenarios in your head as to what to expect and how it’s going to be, and then arriving and having it be completely different yet oddly satisfying that everything is a pleasant surprise. But, for us international students you have to admit, things are a lot harder. Homesickness makes everything that little bit more difficult. You’re trying to adapt to a completely new life and have the pressure of making friends, all the while keeping up with work. The pandemic has changed the way you are allowed to socialise, and yet if you aren’t enjoying yourself, you can’t just visit home for a weekend either. Things can get very overwhelming and all you want to do be back home. But don’t let this feeling get you down, it’s completely normal and you’re not the only one, just don’t let it get the better of you.
Most people don’t even expect homesickness to affect them, but trust me, many people are affected by it even if it might not seem like it. The way I deal with homesickness is making sure to keep in contact with my family throughout the week. My personal favourite is via FaceTime – there is something fundamentally comforting to actually seeing my family once a week. However, phone calls are also a great way of feeling connected to family and friends, and with the services of FaceTime and WhatsApp you don’t have to worry about alarmingly expensive phone bills.
One thing that is fundamental to getting over your homesickness is not talking to your family too often. I find that once or twice a week is enough as you should be getting on with your life at uni and not trying to live your old life at home precariously through your family. Take this opportunity to start afresh and become your own independent person. Try to immerse yourself in your new life and make it a life you are happy in by surrounding yourself with people that make you feel good and a routine that keeps you balanced.
Another important way of getting over your homesickness is keeping yourself busy. Seeing your new friends (when you can), focusing on your work and getting a sense of a routine are great ways to do this. Also, remember that everyone is in the same boat as you, so don’t be afraid to open up about how you’re feeling to your friends or flatmates. You could be surprised to find that they’re feeling the same way and you can help each other through it, and not feel so alone about the way you’re feeling.
Covid has made the problem of homesickness even more serious, as not only is it difficult to visit family as and when you want, everyone feels lonely as a result of remote learning and social distancing measures. It might be easy to imagine that being at home would be a solution to your loneliness, but remember wherever you are from, life wouldn’t be normal (unless you are from New Zealand!) Try and enjoy the fact you can still see friends in your university bubble, and that at least you are gaining a new, different experience at this quite bizarre time.
Thank you, Lucia! If reading this has inspired you to write about a feature of your university life, get in touch via our Instagram page and we’ll share it on our website.