Because moving to a new country is a pretty big change, especially if it’s the first time you’re leaving home. Your family and friends could be thousands of miles away, and your new surroundings might be unfamiliar. You might find it slightly overwhelming at first but there are things you can do to help ease the symptoms of feeling homesick. Studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we want to help you get the most out of your time in Wales.
Arguably one of the best things about studying abroad is the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. Bonding with people from other countries can enrich your life and theirs, expanding your horizons and creating a better understanding of other cultures. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s your chance to have fun.
With over 900 societies and clubs across Wales’ eight universities, there really is something for everyone. Meeting people who share your interests and passions is a sure-fire way to make friendships that will last long after you finish your studies.
“At Cardiff Met, there’s a place for everyone. It’s unlike any other atmosphere I’ve known. All the sports teams support one another, whether you play rugby, football, hockey, or water polo like me: it’s like one big family.” – Caoimhe, from Mayo, Ireland
Just a video call away
For many people, university is all about stepping out into the world on your own, pursuing your ambitions and becoming your own person. But staying connected with the people you love is important, and thanks to technology it’s easier than ever. You can always exercise your inner romantic and pen thoughtful letters to your loved ones, but nothing quite beats seeing people’s faces. Frequent video calls with friends and family will help you feel like you’re missing out on less, and you’ll also be able to update everyone at home with your own exciting adventures.
“I've been calling my family more than I ever did in my life but I've found the time difference can be tricky so you have to find a time in the day that works for you and your family.” – Ivory, from Arizona, US
"I do get homesick, but I facetime my grandparents once a week and facetime my mom every couple of days!" – Ruby, from Kentucky, US
A part of the community
Feeling like an outsider is a commonly cited reason for homesickness but getting involved in the local community of your host city can really help you feel like you belong. Volunteering is a great way to do this, helping you settle down while giving back to others.
Did you volunteer at home? Volunteering here in a similar organisation can feel familiar, making you feel comfortable and at more at home. Equally, getting involved in something new is a great way to add to your study abroad experience! Many of Wales’ universities also have dedicated departments for volunteering, so please ask your course coordinator for any information.
Creating a comfortable space
While you can’t bring all your belongings with you, you can still find ways to make your new home feel more like, well, home. Even small things like photographs, mementos and the occasional teddy can boost your mood and encourage positive vibes. This can also extend to your kitchen – finding your favourite foods in the city or ordering online will be sure to remind you of your favourite home-cooked meals with your family.
A comfortable, familiar space will go a long way towards helping you de-stress and relax after a busy day of studying and having fun.
“When I first moved one of my friends gave me a box full of letters that said open when you're sad, open when you're happy, open when you miss home and that's been so helpful!” – Ruby, from Kentucky, US
Most importantly, understand that you’re not alone. You won’t be the only student studying abroad, and you’ll most likely find yourself travelling with other students who are feeling the same way as you. Talk to your peers, talk to your lecturers, or talk to your university – support will always be available.
Discover what it’s like to study in Wales through the experiences of other international students, here.