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Support and Wellbeing

Dealing with Long-Distance Relationships and Heartbreak as an International Student in Belfast

Read how international student Isabella copes with long-distance heartache and emotions while studying in Belfast.

Two hands holding a black paper heart cut out

This may not be the case for all international students who embark on careers in other countries; however, for many of us who had to leave our hometowns, we also had to end relationships that are very difficult to maintain from a distance or impossible to continue.

Moving to Belfast has been one of the best decisions of my life, and I would not change it for anything in the world. I am living my best life having decided to study at Queen’s. However, in this time I have had to deal with and learn to manage those feelings that have come with my experience of being in a long-distance relationship and ending it. In this blog, I want to share with you the things that have helped me to deal with this situation, and how to not let it affect university life at Queen’s.

Allow yourself to feel but set boundaries

It is important to acknowledge and accept your emotions. Allow yourself to feel sadness, grief and any other emotions that arise as part of the healing process, however, set aside specific time each day to deal with these emotions by setting boundaries to avoid affecting your study time. For example, you could set aside a few minutes at the end of the day to reflect on your feelings, but then focus entirely on your academic work.

Student walking in front of Harland and Wolff cranes

I get the most out of every walk I do in Belfast. Walking clears my mind and gives me a better perspective of everything

Establish a healthy routine in Belfast

Establishing a routine has been one of the things that I have found most difficult but most helpful in managing this situation. Try to maintain healthy routines such as getting enough sleep, eating well and exercising regularly. Self-care is critical to your emotional well-being. Also, get into a structured study routine and commit to sticking to it. This will help you stay focused on your academic goals and have a sense of normalcy in your daily life.

Student writing in notebook with a mug an laptop in front of them

I like to study mostly during the morning because it is when I feel more energy. Studying in this nice space in my accommodation

Explore new activities and make them healthy

Keep busy exploring new activities or interests but make them healthy and productive. Look for activities that will distract you from your thoughts about the breakup. This could include exercising, participating in extracurricular activities, exploring Belfast, or pursuing a hobby that you are passionate about. This can help you distract yourself, meet new people, and find a sense of purpose and joy in other areas of your life. I particularly love to run and at the same time, I am a fan of exploring new places to eat with my friend Summer.

Two students sitting together in the Perch bar

Spending some time with my friend Summer in The Perch

Keep open communication

It is normal that you feel that your breakup is affecting your academic performance, consider communicating with your professors or academic advisors. They can offer additional guidance and support, as well as flexibility in your academic responsibilities if needed.

Queen’s has many psychosocial support programmes to help you cope with whatever emotional process you are going through. The faculties also offer open attention to their students and are always aware of any issues you may have, seeking solutions with an open attitude and dialogue to understand any situation you may be going through.

Student jogging in Titanic Quarter

I love it when I finish my run at the harbor. On this occasion, I saw this amazing cruise. 

Set achievable goals

Set realistic and attainable academic goals for yourself. Break them down into smaller steps and celebrate your accomplishments as you go along. They don't just have to be academic goals, but personal goals as well; for example, I like running and I want to be able to run a half marathon and I train constantly to achieve this goal. This has helped me maintain a sense of progress and accomplishment, even during difficult times.

Find out more

Wellbeing services at Queen's

Queen's Welcome and Orientation

Queen's Student Experience

Information for students from Colombia

Isabella Barros De La Rosa

Violence, Terrorism and Security | Postgraduate Student | Colombia

Hello, my name is Isabella Barros, I am 24 years old and I am from a beautiful city on the Caribbean coast of Colombia called Barranquilla. I am currently pursuing my master's in Violence, Terrorism and Security at Queen’s.

I am very into running and outdoor activities. That's why Belfast is so amazing to live in, because of the landscapes, and the spaces for this kind of hobby.

Besides running and studying, you can find me in any bookstore, wandering around the city, or enjoying a pleasant coffee in a cute cafe!

Isabella Barros De La Rosa