Student Support & Wellbeing

Studying Abroad – Looking After Your Wellbeing

One of the highlights of your University experience may be having the opportunity to work or study abroad. Whilst this may provide a great opportunity to immerse yourself within a new culture, any change (even a positive one) can produce stress – particularly in cases when you are distanced from your familiar surroundings and social networks. It is important to plan how to look after your emotional wellbeing during this period.

Before You Go

Prepare yourself emotionally. There’s a lot to do before you travel abroad and there’s a tendency to concentrate on all the practical issues which need to be addressed. Think about who you normally turn to for support? Will you still be able to access this support from abroad and if so, how? If not, what might you need to consider as an alternative? How good are you at being on your own? What do you need to feel confident, safe and secure?

Maintaining Support

If you are accessing support prior to going abroad, then it may be useful to maintain this during your period abroad. If you are accessing professional support, it’s advisable to talk through your plans with the professional concerned to come up with pro-active strategies, discuss possible triggers which might indicate that additional help needs to be sought, and map out a plan of how you might access this support.

Don’t worry! It’s normal!

Being away from friends, family and your usual routines can be challenging. It can lead to feelings of homesickness, fatigue and stress.Expect to feel a mixture of excitement and apprehension – it would be unusual not to. Be accepting of how you feel and be pro-active about seeking help (from friends, tutors or other professionals) if you need it.

Improve your sense of wellbeing

Research has demonstrated that there are five simple actions we can take to improve our daily sense of wellbeing
1) Notice your thoughts and feelings. By allowing yourself time to notice what you are experiencing you can gain an understanding of it. Take a moment just to savour a moment. Think about how you can create a routine for yourself, this could include something like setting a morning alarm or ensuring you put an hour in your day for a relaxing activity.
2) Be active: Think about what helps you be energised. Exercise helps us combat stress, look for local sports centres or take time out to walk and explore the local area. Also think about how you can eat well.
3) Give: Research shows that by giving you can feel better about yourself. It could be something as simple as sharing a smile with someone but also think about volunteering; it looks great on the CV and can help you get involved in meaningful work with other students.
4) Keep learning: Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Learning new things helps you feel more confident as well as being fun.
5) Connect with people: Make sure that you routinely keep in touch with those people you care about. Take time to be in contact with your family or friends. Balance this with exploring new opportunities – it may take extra effort to make new friends in a new country but the pay-off may be life-changing.

What are the indicators that you need to ask for some support?

If you are starting to feel stuck in a negative emotional state, then this may be time to think about looking for some additional support.
Some common indicators are the following:

  • Changes in sleep, energy, appetite, routine, motivation.
  • Changes in mood – feeling anxious or stressed, worrying, or feeling depressed or lonely.
  • No longer enjoying activities that used to give pleasure.
  • Finding that you are not as efficient or effective at your work or you are struggling to understand or get things done

Sources of support

More general mental health self-help, advice and support

To reach a member of the Student Support and Wellbeing team in Canterbury please contact:

T:+44(0)1227 823158

E: wellbeing@kent.ac.uk

 

 

 

 

Student Support - © University of Kent

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 823158, (0)1634 888969

Last Updated: 11/01/2018