Overcoming homesickness: tips for international students

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Homesickness is common and many university students feel homesick at some stage. It’s a completely normal feeling and experienced by many who are away from family and friends. It can last a few weeks or can linger for months.

Are you new to New Zealand?

Homesickness is especially difficult for people who have moved overseas to study. Students new to New Zealand can find our accent, food, weather, and way of life very different and difficult to understand.

We understand that you might be feeling a lot of emotions including anxiety, sadness, and even anger. Our staff are here to help you get used to your new environment and find ways to overcome these feelings during these times.

8 tips to help you overcome homesickness

Here are 8 great tips from some of our international students on how they overcame homesickness. We hope you find them useful too.

1) Familiar is good

Set up your room with something familiar from home, like a photo of your family and friends, or make it your screen saver on your laptop.  Check in with family and friends by sharing your experiences of New Zealand with them.  But try not to make this an hourly or daily occurrence.

2) Be brave

Make an effort to talk to someone new every day, especially in the first weeks of the semester. Talk to someone else about how you feel – another new student will probably feel the same way you do. Try not to call home every day or use social media channels constantly, as this can prolong feelings of homesickness.

3) Accept invitations to places or events where you can meet more people

Every semester there is an 'International Noho Marae' weekend activity on campus. This is a great opportunity to learn about the inherent Māori culture only found in New Zealand, Aōtearoa, and share what is unique about yours. You'll make memories and be part of a whānau (family) away from home.

4) Be kind to yourself

It is okay to miss home.  After all, you have spent most of your life there until now. Remember to eat properly, get enough sleep, and exercise. Your physical wellbeing is just as important as your emotional wellbeing.

5) Know your environment

Learn what facilities and services are available at AUT and in your neighbourhood. You will feel more in control if you know where your classes are, and know the layout of buildings on campus and where support services are located. Walk around your neighbourhood and find out what is nearby, like:

  • Public transport stops
  • Shops
  • Public library
  • Medical centre
  • Community centres

6) Join events in your local area

Auckland celebrates many diverse cultures by holding festivals, ethnic food markets, concerts and other events in local parks or centres. They're a great way to feel connected to the community and can give you a sense of “home” here.

7) Join a club

Do you belong to a sports or social club back home? Why not find out if a similar club exists here – check with AUTSA (AUT Student Association) or in your local area and go along to some of their games or meetings. You may make new friends who share similar interests to you.

AUTSA website

8) Be a good citizen

Compassion is one of the traits of a good citizen. When you are motivated to help others, you are helping yourself too. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to show concern and care and gives you the chance to meet like-minded people.

Remember: Feeling homesick does not mean you are failing. Reach out to someone you trust or our International Student Support team if you need. We are here to help.

Wellbeing: physical, mental, sexual and spiritual health

Take a look at some tips on how to take care of different aspects of your wellbeing.

Look after your wellbeing

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