As the end of the semester approaches, I wanted to talk about feeling down during your time abroad. Of course at the beginning most of us were beyond excited, seeing every part of the daily routine as new and interesting since it differs so much from the one we had back home. However, when novelty starts wearing off and the workload intensifies, a kind of blues steps in and might be difficult to deal with. I know at this time in the term, all my friends and I would complain every single day, but how could you allow yourself to do such a thing when you’re living in a foreign country and supposed to be living your best life ? Here are my top tips to deal with being “down in the dumps”.
Create your own routine during your time abroad
I know it feels contradictory to establish habits when studying abroad because you want to explore as much as possible and be in the new everyday but let’s be honest: it’s not sustainable. I think it might work for some people but for most of us, having habits and a routine we choose for ourselves really helps fighting those mid-term blues. Gathering with your friends every week, calling your family every other day, cooking that dish you love or even watching a film that’s close to your heart. It won’t prevent you from going crazy at the weekend and enjoying that Erasmus lifestyle but having some taking some time out to recharge and regroup in the middle of novelty and unfamiliarity is much needed.
Don’t be afraid of changing the goals you had set for yourself
You might have planned to make only British friends, to try something new every single day or even to never go to the same place twice but you are completely allowed to change your mind once you’ve settled. Realising that one of your desires for this time abroad isn’t feasible or does not make you happy if totally fine and it’s important to know when to acknowledge that rather than persisting in putting that pressure on yourself for nothing. In the end you’re living that experience for you and your personal growth so be honest and get rid of what makes you unhappy without feeling you’ve failed in any way.
Feel proud of what you’ve accomplished
Studying abroad for a semester or a year is so common nowadays that people tend to forget how much of a challenge it can be. You’re landing in a new country, speaking a foreign language (at least in my case) and leaving everything you know and are familiar with behind for several months. Recently I received feedback for the papers I had submitted in the mid-semester period and I realised that during that study abroad experience we are treated just like any other student, our difficulties are not taken into account and therefore it feels refreshing to be aware of that and not beat yourself up for not achieving everything you wanted. Sometimes it’s quite empowering to look more objectively at your life and spot all the things you’re doing every single day and which might have seemed impossible a year ago.
Make use of support groups
At Queen Mary University of London, there is a service providing therapy sessions if you feel a bit depressed or need professional support. Being abroad does not mean that all your personal issues disappear or that everything suddenly turns perfect, so get in touch with the people in charge of incoming students to access help for your physical and mental health. If you feel that you need support without seeing a professional, I think it’s great to talk openly with the other incoming students because nobody else will understand you better. Sometimes feeling that you are not alone in a specific situation makes the world of difference and gives you that boost of motivation you desperately needed!
Essay season is starting so keeping all this in mind can be a life-savour ! Feeling down from time to time during your time abroad is perfectly fine and is part of life. That being said don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you feel it’s not going away. Being in a foreign country shouldn’t prevent you from taking care of yourself and keep pressure off your shoulders. Living your best life does not mean doing crazy cool things 24/7 so embrace those down moments to listen to yourself