Being able to receive an education abroad is bloody amazing. But it also comes with its unique set of challenges. Here are my tips on how to survive university abroad.
1. Live in a dorm
Living in a dorm has been one of the best decisions I've made.
It's prevented me from getting lonely. Going abroad is tough. From adjusting to a new culture to running 1001 errands: you get overwhelmed. And with your energy drained, wondering how to make friends would be the last thing on your mind.
That's where dorms come in.
Dorms tend to have activities to help you meet and greet your neighbours. That way you don't have to worry about how to make friends. Leave the planning to your dorm, and simply show up to the activities
Another reason to stay in a dorm is that you tend to make much closer, tighter connections. Simply because of the fact that it's so easy to spend time together. I can safely say that my closest friends in university are from my dorm and not from my classes.
If you can't get a spot in a school dorm, try to find some kind of residential dorm that has a strong community. If both fail, try a sharehouse.
2. Indulge in activities
Adding on to the previous point, once you're in your dorm: go to the activities they organise. I know you have a lot of errands to run, but go. If your dorm is even half decent they'll organise activities to help with those errands.. E.g. trips to IKEA.
On these trip you can buy shit you need while making some friends. After all, IKEA is just a gigantic playground anyway, what place could be better to make friends?
3. Stay connected with food
LORD I LOVE FOOD.
The first time I got homesick, my sister's first piece of advice was "FOOD! Stay close to food from home!" So as important as it is to try new things, remember that it's also fine to retreat to your own bubble once in awhile! So feel free to get your favourite comfort food, nestle into the covers and watch Netflix for the night.
4. Have a hobby
Have your own life outside of university and further your hobbies. If you don't have any, get some, seriously. You're an adult now. To have a balanced life, it's good to have a creative activity. For me: it's definitely my dancing. I have a studio outside of campus that I go to.
And with a hobby outside, you get to meet with and network with people outside your usual circle.
5. Seek counseling if you need.
Like I said before, moving abroad is tough. Despite following these tips, you might still struggle. And that's perfectly okay! Don't be ashamed of feeling down. There is no correct way to feel. You feel what you feel, so give your emotions run, whatever they are. We're all human and go through rough patches.
Seek help if you need. Most universities have free counselling available.
A lot of people doubt counseling with thoughts like: "What's the point? What are they gonna do?"
If you think that way, please read this: Counselors are trained. They have degrees and further studies in psychology, sociology and counselling. They know how to help. They have actual strategies and tips on how to make your situation better.
And some people may say "but they don't even know me!" Exactly.
They are a neutral person. They have no other person giving opinions on who you are. They can hear how YOU process things, how YOU feel things and how they can help YOU.
Like I said, most universities usually have free counselling available. If you do not have the energy to see someone face-to-face: here are some other options:
For 24-hour counseling, support and suicide hotline:
Call: 13 11 14
For Anxiety and Depression:
Beyondblue Call: 1300 22 4636
For eating disorders and body image related issues:
Butterfly Foundation's National Helpline, ED HOPE
Call: 1800 33 4673
Open: 8am – midnight AEST, 7 days a week.
Professional telephone, online support and information service for Australian men:
Call: 1300 78 99 78
Overall, an education abroad is one of the biggest blessings in the world. The people you'll meet, the places you'll go and the experiences you'll have will be one of a kind. Happy learning, go get that education! 💕