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Support and Wellbeing

How I Deal with Feeling Homesick as an International Student

Moving away from friends and family can be a challenge for new students - Canadian Law student Dallas shares some top tips to battle the bouts of homesickness.

Two students looking out window in accommodation

As an international student studying in Belfast, it can be overwhelming. Everything is unfamiliar, the grocery stores, the restaurants, even the names of some foods - I had to ask a waiter what rocket was when I first got here (it’s just another name for arugula in case you were also confused).

I’ve lived on my own before, but I was never more than a 30-minute drive from my family, so transitioning to being a full 8 hour flight away was really hard at first. Thankfully, I put some measures in place before I even left my hometown that really saved me from getting too lonely.

Schedule weekly calls with family

First of all, I made a plan with my family to do pre-scheduled weekly phone calls. Every Sunday, I make a few calls to different family members and we catch each other up on anything new. It doesn’t even matter how long we end up staying on the phone, having this to look forward to all week really helps when things start to pile up too much. Obviously I can, and do, call my family throughout the week sometimes, but having the prescheduled call avoids the possibility of scheduling issues.

Student on phonecall outside One Elmwood Student Centre

Look forward to scheduled calls with friends and family

Have keepsakes on standby

Secondly, when I was packing to move out here, I made sure to pack as many keepsakes, photographs and cards as I could. I saved all of the birthday and holiday cards I got throughout the year before I left and brought them all with me. Whenever I have a rough day or start to miss home too much, I go through some of those cards and I feel a little bit closer to the people I’m missing.

It has also really helped me to keep photos of my friends and family from back home displayed in my apartment where I can always see them. This helps remind me that there are people back home who are rooting for me and waiting for me when I come home.

Group of cards on a window sill

Bring a little piece of home to Belfast

Engage with your Queen’s community

Finally, what has helped me avoid feeling too homesick since I moved into my Queen’s Accommodation is the community of people at Elms BT9. The reception team organises social events every night at the Treehouse. There are holiday themed events, crafts and movie nights, and knowing there is always something going on helps me to get out of my head, out of my room, and more integrated into the community of other students.

My favourite part of all of the social events in the Treehouse is the free tea and coffee that is offered every day. I’ve met several friends through the social events at the Treehouse and now we meet up most nights for tea/coffee. It is a nice break from studying, and really helps me feel more at home in Belfast.

Students sitting together in accommodation

Get involved and make Belfast your home away from home

As an international student, feeling homesick is inevitable. Being so far away from family isn’t easy for anyone. But these little things have really helped make Belfast my home away from home, and I hope they help you too!

Find out more

Information for students from Canada

Welcome and Orientation at Queen's

More blogs by students from Canada

Dallas Mustard

Law | Undergraduate Student | Canada

I moved to Belfast from Calgary, Canada to study law and now, because of how warm and vibrant the city is, I am planning to stay here to practice law after my degree. In my spare time I play guitar and write songs, and have started to do acoustic sessions at pubs around the city.

Dallas Mustard