Answered anonymously , Jan 9th 2015, 15:46
Having suffered from anxiety and depression for years, I was in almost the exact same position last year before starting my year abroad. In fact I almost quit my degree because I was so scared about it. Yet I am still here after almost 5 months, and I can honestly say it has been one of the best things for me.
In terms of support at universities, as an international student you are linked with the international office at the university, and they are, more often than not, who you will be able to go and talk to and ask for advice. They are used to helping students and especially in reference to problems such as with homesickness. Regardless of the fact that universities abroad aren't so geared up to deal with such issues as back home, there are still people there for you who will be able to point you in the right direction, whether that be to other university services, doctors, or advisors.
It's important to remember that you are not going to be alone on your year abroad too, you will most likely be part of an erasmus group or something similar at the university, so at times when you feel homesick it is really good to be part of this little community because all will be feeling the exactly the same from time to time.
I'm not going to lie and tell you that it is all going to be great, because some days it is of course going to be difficult, but remember that even though you will be abroad, your home university, family and friends are only an email, skype call or text message away! (Even plane flights can be as cheap as anything nowadays!)
My advice to you is to read up lots about where you are going to familiarise yourself as much as possible, perhaps try to get in touch with other international students or erasmus groups and ask your home university tutors for advice as to who you can go and see in times of need.
Good luck! I can almost guarantee it will be one of the best years of your life, so please try not to let your mental health stop you from fulfilling it!
Esther, Jan 9th 2015, 23:48
I am currently studying abroad in America for a year. Before this I was incredibly nervous, leaving behind a relationship and my family, and I had never been away from home.
Most universities do offer student emotional and mental help, you may just need to ask and I'm sure there will be a department for it. In my university abroad, they have a Counselling department, which offers drop in services, counselling, yoga and group chats, etc, which really helped me - so there will most likely be similar services at which ever university you go to!
I am not saying there are times you will not miss home, but honestly I am having such a great time by the end of my first semester.
Keep these 3 things in mind:
1. Surround yourself with POSITIVE people - I can't explain how important it is to you, it'll rub off on you, and those people will take your mind off home.
2. SOCIALISE- I wasn't a sociable person , but study abroad helped me with that meeting new people took my mind off home and I was able to develop more friendships.
3. Join new SOCIETIES and clubs.
Good Luck! Any more questions let me know!
Nicola Byrom, Jan 20th 2015, 10:39 Verified Guru
I can't answer your question precisely because the support provision at universities internationally varies dramatically. However...
There are lots of things that YOU can do to prepare for your year abroad to ensure that you are resilient!!
Resilience is the ability maintain good mental health even when things get tricky and there are three things that you can do to be more resilient:
(1) Have strong social networks of support
You can start thinking about the support network that you want in place now. Who currently supports you when you are having a bad day? Do you call your parents or text a friend or perhaps meet up with people on campus? It may help to create a list of your current network.
Once you've done this, you can have a think about how your contact with these people might change when you are on your year abroad. Today there are many different ways that make staying in contact really easy, whether it is using Skype, Facebook, emails or WhatsApp. You can create a plan for how you will stay in touch with your current support network when abroad. It can really help to maintain this contact whether or not you are finding things tricky, so that things start to get harder, you already have a network of people you are in contact with regularly.
(2) Do activities that are good for your well being
What do you do at the moment to relax and unwind? It is helpful to create your own list of things that cheer you up, so that you can be proactive about doing these things in your Year Abroad. This way you'll be armed with resources: you'll know what you can do to cheer yourself up.
Stay in touch with Student Minds, via our website, facebook and twitter, over your year abroad for regular updates, ideas and suggestions of things that you can do to improve your mood. We have a very active blog site where students have shared their experiences and reflections on managing mental health difficulties.
(3) Build up your psychological coping skills
There is a fantastic website called Students Against Depression. The site is written by clinicians and is constantly being updated by your staff team and student networks. There is some great information there about how you can build your psychological coping skills.
So... there lots of things you can start doing now to plan proactively for your year abroad!