September 10, 2012, by Anne Smart
In a university far far away…
For many of our students, moving to university means moving thousands of miles away from home. Lauren Murphy, an MA student from the USA, talks about what it feels like to live and study far far away from home.
When you move away from home to start at university, especially one that’s abroad, it can be overwhelming and easy to become home sick in the first few days. I think the most important advice I took from friends who had gone through similar experiences was that I needed to get myself out of my room and meeting people immediately. When you have travelled such a long way to your university and are jet lagged, it’s very easy to just stay in to sleep, unpack, and sit on the phone with friends and family at home- which are all important things, but you miss out on meeting people and the great Freshers’ Week One activities. Plus, the longer you wait to join in with these activities, the more intimidating they will appear. Personally, I felt more at ease and settled at university when I had met my flatmates and made other friends at these activities- other students are the best distraction from homesickness.
My advice would be to get out there and join in with clubs and societies, go and introduce yourself to other students on your course or in your halls, and exchange phone numbers with new friends so you can make plans to meet up throughout the term.
Remember to look after yourself, try to adapt to local eating and sleeping times as soon as you can so that you adjust to the new time zone.
The University and all the campuses at Nottingham will be new to you and it will take time to find your way around and see everything but remember that Nottingham city centre is just down the road for you to explore too! The University has a city guide which lists all the great places to eat, drink and visit and it also has a map so you can’t get lost. Take an afternoon to walk around and familiarise yourself with the city and see what amazing places you can find. Some of my favourites are: Market Sq. , the White Rabbit Tea House, Tilt, and Wollaton Park.
It’s important to remember that being homesick is normal, and will happen at some point in your stay. I always found it helpful to have a few things from home with me such as pictures and a much loved item, which can make your new home feel more like yours. It’s also good to have someone to talk to about being homesick. I always met up with a friend from my home country when I really missed home, and we’d have a chat about what we missed about home.
And remember that you will not be the only person missing home, particularly in the first few weeks. The University has lots of support services, so if you need anything don’t be afraid to ask.
The University runs a Welcome Programme for international students the week before UK students arrive on campus, take a look at all of the support and activities online.