With international student Elen Nahapetyan’s top tips, you’ll be too busy having fun at Queen’s to miss home.
Studying far away from home can be both exciting and stressful at the same time. Being away from your home and the environment where you grew up can be hard. Usually the transition to a new culture and country requires some time and a lot of effort. Homesickness can make this transition even harder: missing your home, family, school, the streets of your town can seem very hard thing to deal with. I am going give you a few tips on how you can overcome and cure homesickness.
One way of overcoming homesickness is by keeping yourself busy and engaging with university life as much as possible. One of the greatest ways of doing that is by joining a club or society. Queen’s has various clubs and societies, running the gamut from sports to arts, so you are sure to find something that interests you. They are a great platform to get to know your fellow students. By joining a society, you can also volunteer and contribute to the organisation of different events and meetings, which is valuable work experience!
Keep yourself busy! Attending various events organised within the university, like quizzes, cultural events and training programmes, is both helpful and interesting. One such event is Development Week, during which different types of information sessions and workshops are held. You can learn and gain new skills, make new friends, and also learn about different opportunities within the uni. This is a productive way of keeping yourself busy! There are also plenty of cross-cultural events, which can be a great way to get an introduction to another culture. Isn’t it interesting to learn about different nationalities, maybe about their food, dances or songs? You can make new friends and exchange information about your home cultures!
Going to a gym or doing sports is a great solution for relieving stress and gaining energy. Not only will this keep you fit, but exercising and playing different sports gives you a bust of energy which you need when studying. It is also a good way to keep your mind off home. Queen’s Sport has a variety of sport and fitness classes, where you can learn anything from wall-climbing to dance, and from swimming to archery! If you are planning on staying at Queen’s Accommodation, there is a free gym for all the residents.
Bringing part of home with you will remind you of home - and why not share it with others? Sharing and representing your culture can be very exciting and a lot of fun. Queen’s International Students’ Society organizes various cultural events during which you can represent your culture and share a piece of your home with others. I believe that’s a great cure for homesickness. And you’ll get the opportunity to see other international students dancing your traditional dance or trying your country’s food, and seeing their amazed and excited faces.
This sounds like a horrible thing to say, but trust me, calling your mom or your best friend every day will keep you within your own bubble. You need to become confident, get out of your comfort zone, familiarise yourself with new people and cultures and enjoy life in Belfast! Of course, you must talk to your parents and share your news with your friends, but instead of calling them everyday try calling every other day or 3-4 times a week! And be open to getting to know more people and making new friends.
I was guilty of this when I first came to uni. And this made me even more homesick! Whenever I had some free time, I would go through my old photos of my family and friends on my phone and instantly become homesick. My suggestion would be either never open your gallery on your phone, or make sure to always have internet to entertain yourself with something other than old pictures!
For some students, it can be a very tough transition to a new environment. Being alone, far away from home, can seem very stressful and a hard thing to do, but there is always help available. When I first moved to Belfast, I felt very lonely and would miss everything about my home and my family, which, of course, made it difficult for me to open up to new people. However, there are always people who are ready to help you! Don’t ignore the Wellbeing Services on offer at Queen’s. People here are always ready to listen to you and give you some advice and encouragement. Remember, it is okay to feel lonely and have a difficult transition to university life, but also know that there are always people who are willing to help!
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