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Advice for StudentsCardiff University ExperiencesLiving away from homeSecond yearSettling inStudent Life

How I coped with transitions at University as an international student!

31 October 2023

It’s true that living at University, especially as an international student, is full of rollercoasters. No matter how hard we try, there are stressors around us all and we can’t always cope well with them. Being away from home, we often lead a life here that feels half-empty, always missing family and friends back home. This is especially true when things are difficult to handle alone and we want to be back home. So, at times, some extra help is definitely needed- be it by us or by others.

I was no exception. The transition from first year to second year hit me harder than I expected and as a result of that, I had to find ways to cope with it all as soon as possible. Going into my second year, I was excited to return from Mumbai after spending the summer break there. However, when I got back, things were so different from my first year that I couldn’t wrap my head around them. Everything from my flat (went from a University residence to a private flat), my friends (lost touch with a few over the summer), my degree (second-year grades count towards your degree), to my schedule (having to plan grocery runs and work) felt odd and tough. I kept wondering why but after a while, it was apparent that this constant thinking about the problems wasn’t helping at all.

So, I started taking things one at a time. My first step of action was to fix my sleep schedule. I set alarms for 8 am and started going on morning walks. This seemed like a small step to me but the combination of my favourite music with morning air made me feel more motivated and optimistic. I started making to-do lists while on my walk. That helped me to feel less overwhelmed when I did eventually get back home. The next thing that I changed was my approach to people around me. I realised that they were the only ones who could be good company and that they needed me too. So, I began hanging out with flatmates and old friends that made me happy. I had conversations with them about how I felt and took a bit of extra help when it came to sorting stuff out.

The next step was to talk to people back home about why I had been stressed for the past few weeks and discussing the things I did to change that. I started calling them more frequently and maintaining an honest relationship with them. I incorporated regular therapy sessions with a recommended therapist and kept attending them even when I felt better. Slowly and eventually, she gave me the ‘all well’ tag and I could just handle it on my own.

As for the stress about my degree, I spoke to my personal tutor and he helped me to understand that the professors know how stressful it truly is now and how they would be more than happy to provide extra help. He highlighted that every student goes through this and that as soon as I started doing my assignments and getting the results, I’d see that it wasn’t all that tough and that I was never alone in the process.

I decided to write about this because I wanted to convey that small changes can make all the difference and that never for a second are you the only one struggling at University. So, seek all the help you need and give all the help you can.