Tips: How to handle difficult times as a student in a foreign country
Updated: Apr 13
Being a student on a totally different continent can be very stressful and inadequate for your mental health.A lot of times you think about giving up, but you know that at the end of the day it is not worth it. You have come a long way, you are a strong human being for even making this decision, and you should be proud of it. A lot of people do not have the courage you do nor the strong individualistic character to make such a decision. You left behind all your loved ones, a couple thousand miles away, to work on being a better you, so get to working.💻📊📚
I was pretty confident and I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the world and where I fit in it, but deciding to continue on with my studies abroad turned all of that around for me. So, this is how my journey of being a master student in a foreign country began...
It was November 19th, 2018 when I was on a flight to a country that I didn't even know where it was on a map.🌏I've decided that I wanted to get my degree from Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation (APU) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Why?🤷🏻♀️Well, I couldn't really tell you but most likely it is because I am an adventurous soul, and this was another challenging thing to do to get out of my comfort zone. Not to gloat, but one of my main characteristics is that I am very independent and have lived on my own for 4 years. So, since I was faced with this challenge, I thought I could try something new. Honestly, these have been the toughest 3 months of my life. I would like to share a couple of tips with you how I cope with difficult times of being homesick.
Tip #1: Do not be hard on yourself
First remember that difficult days can help you grow and develop as a person. Just because you are sad, and you feel homesick doesn't mean that you are weak. You should not beat yourself up about it. Missing home is something that most of the students are experiencing as well. I think that this is the most important step in the process because if you feel guilty about it, it will just make the situation worse. The first couple of weeks I thought my whole world was falling apart. I thought to myself okay.. am I crazy, am I such a weak person that cannot handle this and cannot hide it as well or the other ones just hide it very well. Just because I was overthinking this I was making it harder for myself to function throughout the day without looking like someone punched me in the face from all the crying I've been doing.
Tip #2: Keep yourself busy, do not stay in your dorm room
I do this all the time actually because I treat my room as a safe place and a place I can let my emotions out. This happens every other day... but most of the time your room should be a place where you actually just get some rest or if you want some time to yourself. Staying in your room the whole time will make you even more depressed than you already are because you are isolating yourself from the outside world. It will make you miss home even more. Soooo, go to the library, go to a nearby Starbucks if you have one and do your work there. I usually use Starbucks as a getaway to plan trips, do assignments and work on my blog as well. Even though most of the time I do stay in my room and lock myself from the outside world, when I do go out I feel way better. When I stay in my room I drain my energy as well and that is unhealthy. So don't make the same mistakes.
Tip #3: Do extracurricular activities
This will do you some good believe it or not. Find what you love to do in your free time after class and make the most out of it. I usually paint 🎨, go shopping🛍, do yoga🧘🏻♀️, take a Zumba class.💃🏻But the thing I recently started doing and it takes a lot of my free time and definitely helps me get my negative energy out is taekwondo.🥋 Going to practice every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday takes my mind off of things and takes all my negative energy out. I have always wanted to do martial arts but I was never confident enough to give it a try. If you have a chance to do martial arts, I strongly recommend it. It is a good form of discipline and a very good workout if you are planning to slim down a bit. It is okay if this requires you to get out of your comfort zone.Remember, you are just becoming a better independent individual.
Tip #4: Make 3 to 4 friends along the way
You don't need a big group of people to enjoy your studies abroad with. Keep your circle close and there will be less drama believe me. Go out and have a couple of drinks at the bar, discover new card games, play board games, have karaoke night, go bowling take day trips with them. Fulfilling your time with other people and being an extrovert keeps your mind busy and you don't think so much about the loved ones back at home. Of course you should keep in touch with everyone back at home but not too much because it will not help. This is the biggest mistake I make because I am on the phone with everyone from Macedonia 24/7. I can easily say that my sleeping schedule is messed up just because I stay up very late to communicate with friends and family. This is very unacceptable for your mental health so try to control it, because getting less than 7 hours of sleep is unhealthy.
Tip #5: Explore your surroundings
I think most of the time we feel homesick because we are unfamiliar with the city we are studying in. It is best if you explore around just to know where you are going to live for the next couple of years. You have to make yourself feel more at home.Take a bike tour, go for walks, I am sure there are plenty of things you can see in a foreign country that you don't have at home.Go sightseeing, volunteer, take the metro/train somewhere and get lost and find your way back home. You are only here for a couple of years, or at least a year so make the most of it! In the first month of my stay in Malaysia,I took a bike tour around the city which was👍🏻
Moral of the story is, I know it's tough being away from friends and family and settling into a different country but believe me it will make you a stronger individual. Remember what I said at the beginning, you have come a long way just simply making this decision. A lot of people do not have the courage you do nor the strong individualistic character!! Be proud of yourself!