Homesickness and the Education System as a First Year Student

students walking on main mallDid September to December go by in a flash? Are you feeling excited and nervous at the same still figuring out where you fit at university?

First of all, congratulations that you have made this far. We all know that university life can get overwhelming sometimes, we have all been there. Whether it is about coping academically, socially and going through homesickness and missing your family and friends back home. However, there few things I would like to give advice on how you can go about managing your homesickness and getting accustomed to the education system.

Firstly, getting accustomed with education system will take time for some people, especially for international students.  If you don’t get what the lecturer is explaining or you don’t do as well in the exam as you were expecting, don’t panic! It is fine; it happens. Here are 3 tips for you to do better next time at the same time enlighten and navigate university life.

  1. Speak out if you have a problem – do not ever make the mistake of not saying so whenever you have difficulties with anything. Sometimes you might get shy or scared but the professors and advisors are there to help, but they can’t support you if they don’t know you are struggling.
  2. Make connections- This may feel difficult for some people but try to make connection with other students by having a group study session and exchanging notes. Group study brings different ideas and different ways of doing things to the table and this helps you in discovering information you might have missed while you were studying.
  3. Internet resources – Honestly, I am impressed with the resources that are available on the internet including lecture videos, summary videos, sample questions and many more. Make sure you do your research whenever you are stuck.

Most professors offer additional resources outside the class, like office hours. TAs also have their office hours and also Prof-in-Commons is a space where students and professors have a meaningful engage outside the classroom, so always make use of them. Here are some important and useful academic resources around the university:

Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communication – At the Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communications, students can schedule a meeting with a peer Writing Consultant, who will consult you in the process of writing essays, research papers or proposals. This is a super helpful resource.

Math Learning Centre – Math undergraduates and graduates are always in this space and they are available to help with any math difficulties.

Science Peer Academic Coaches – This service allows you to meet with a coach to generate a plan to help you tackle difficulties with balancing assignments, lab reports, exams and more.

Arts Peer Academic Coaches  – This service allows you to meet with a coach to offer you advice and guidance you need specifically for Arts students.

AMS Tutoring – There is also a tutoring program provided by AMS which offers both group tutoring and private tutoring. Group tutoring is normally drop in and the timetable is on the website (Group tutoring schedule). Private tutoring is also available, which costs money, but the group tutoring is free.

The other thing I want to talk about is homesickness. Homesickness is the distress caused by being away from home and missing your family, pet, food or your friends. It is also about feeling longing and out of place. If you are experiencing homesickness know that you are not alone.

Here some measures to help with homesickness:

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself – it is so easy to blame yourself for feeling lonely by thinking of that as a sign of weakness, but trust me, that shows that you are someone who cares and it is a sign of strength about how far you have come.
  • Try to get out of your room- engage yourself with extracurricular activities or exploring your surroundings(campus) and even try to read in the library instead of in your room to avoid that time which will make you overthink about everything. Also try to join a club or go to event to find people with shared interests.
  • Stay positive – do what makes you happy like exercise or a passion you have or do something you always wanted to try. And have a positive mindset that things are going to get better.

See this blog post by UBC Vantage College for more tips for helping with homesickness.

Of all the things that I have talked about always remember it is always okay to ask for help.

Here is a list of support services around UBC campus:

UBC Wellness Centre

UBC Counselling Services

Empower Me

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