All of the struggles you’ll relate to as an international student living in Newcastle

Different food, culture and language and with that also a bunch of different struggles

Coming to university has never been easy, leaving home, family and friends behind and starting a new chapter on one’s own can be overwhelming. More so, if the home you leave behind is thousands of kilometres away, and as you step off that plane for the first time, you are a stranger in an even stranger country. This is a brief run down of the struggles of an international student living in Newcastle.

Feeling homesick

An aspect rather native to every international student is homesickness. Whatever form the homesickness takes is more or less individual. In personal experience, it’s not just home you miss. It’s your family, your friends, the food your mum makes, the ingredients you’ve known to cook with your whole life, the familiarity of your surroundings. To hell with it, even a smell that is attached to your home comes to be missed once you move away.

Struggling to adapt

It is those moments when you first move away and find yourself lost in a city that is now meant to be your home. And it’s those moments that follow, of finding new friends, places to eat, places to shop and simply finding your bearings in a new place. And even though this is, I suppose, a rite of passage for every university student, be it home or international, being an international student often makes adapting even harder. You can often feel like an outsider, trying to understand the slang, and the culture and trying to relate to people from different backgrounds.

Finding a new ‘home’

Despite parts of the journey feeling sad at times, however, comes a great positive – you build a new home. And even more than that – the home you’ve built is only yours. The friends you’ve met along the way all the experiences you’ve gone through, all the challenges you overcame and all the lessons you have learned – you have done by your own strength.

And that, in my head, is something worth the struggles. One negative about successfully building a new home is that you now have two, and as great as that can be, it also means you never have all the things you love in the same place. There is always something missing – when you are at uni, you miss home, and when you are at home you miss uni, and it’s exemplified if that home is a few flights away.

Feeling guilty

From all of the missing you do or don’t do, come the conflicting feelings of guilt. When I miss my home, I constantly feel guilty about it. My head is swirled with questions like: Should I not be enjoying this, wasn’t this my choice? And when I am happy here and don’t miss home, I feel guilty about that too, as I should miss the place I’ve come from, right?

All of this can often be overwhelming, but I am glad to say it doesn’t happen that often and happens less and less since living abroad for a longer time.

Uncertainty about the future

Being an international student is also often met with panic about the future. Especially if you were planning to stay in the country for a while after you have graduated, as the current prime minister and his government are intent on raising the conditions for immigration laws, you can believe me it is met with profanities, panic and confusion because sometimes there is not much else you can do.