Year Abroad students
Going to live abroad for a part of your degree can be both exciting and challenging. Our self-help resources and email counselling are here to support you.
If you need support right now, there are several numbers you can call – even if you’re not based in the UK.
- On this page:
- Culture shock
- Self help options
- Email counselling
- Known mental health issues
You may experience some degree of culture shock when you first go abroad, while learning to cope with things like:
- separation from family and friends
- new customs, foods, climate, societal rules
- communicating in a different language
- pressure to make a success of your time away
Culture shock can result in:
- worry and upset about seemingly small matters
- feelings of isolation and loneliness
- concentration and focus difficulties
- physical problems, like headaches, sleeplessness or changes in appetite
- a dip in self-confidence
These are all very common ways to react to a big change.
Our top ten tips can help you to cope emotionally with living abroad.
- Meet people: encourage yourself to make friends, through things like societies, hobbies, clubs and neighbours.
- Mix with everyone: mixing with other people who are visitors to the country can be helpful at first, as they may have similar feelings, but try to make friends who are from your new environment, too.
- Develop a routine: engage with daily activities outside your home.
- Turn off technology: make sure you don’t spend too much time online or watching TV.
- Keep well physically: eat well, sleep well and exercise regularly.
- Don’t drink too much: make sure you’re not using alcohol to hide from your problems
- Mix new and familiar foods: find shops selling familiar items of food, but also take the chance to experiment with a new cuisine.
- Explore: touring around your new country can help you value your experience.
- Maintain your support networks: keeping in touch with family and friends at home can be a source of comfort.
- Record and reflect: keeping a journal or travel blog can help you reflect on all the changes.
There are also many sources of online support, such as forums and chat rooms, podcasts and relaxation exercises.
If you need one-to-one support, you can self-refer for counselling, which would be over email.
Known mental health concerns
If you are worried about an existing mental health issue, talk to your doctor before you go, to make sure you have good support in place. The Student Disability Service, and your Exchange Co-ordinator, will also be able to give advice.