COVID-19 has presented students with many challenges over the last year and a half. Distance learning has meant that students have had to make classrooms out of their bedrooms while battling spotty WiFi in ‘presentable from the waist-up’ outfits.
With many schools returning to in-person learning, international students may feel a mixture of excitement and nerves in anticipation of this new normal. We’ve put together a list of tips that will empower you to feel confident as you head back to campus—or begin your study abroad journey—this fall.
1. Establish a Routine
Sticking to a routine helps us foster habits to reach our goals and provides the structure we crave in unpredictable times. If COVID-19 has turned your routine upside down, you might want to consider the following tips:
- Your morning routine sets the tone for your entire day, and it’s essential to get up at a time that eliminates the morning rush and the panic that can come with it.
- Since you won’t be able to run to the kitchen to grab a treat on a whim, make sure you schedule times to eat throughout the day. Preparing nutritious snacks and meals to take with you to campus will not only give you the fuel you need to excel in your studies but is also a great way to save money and stay healthy.
- With restrictions lifting, you can finally break away from your home classroom and explore different study spots, while still following social distancing rules, of course. Find places like libraries, coffee shops, and parks that will encourage you to hit the books. Try blocking off study times throughout the week, and be sure to hold yourself accountable.
- Establishing a bedtime routine is a great way to unwind after a long day. Set aside time every night to chill out with a cup of caffeine-free tea, a book, or Netflix.
Important Reminder: Burnout is natural and happens to all of us. To combat this, ensure that you are scheduling time for breaks and fun.
2. Make a Friend in Every Class
Never underestimate the power of a pal. After being denied in-person interactions for so long, building these connections with your classmates will be all the more rewarding. Don’t forget that everyone around you is riding COVID-19’s rollercoaster, and they too, are trying to figure out what post-lockdown life on campus looks like. Keep this in mind whenever you feel nervous about striking up a conversation with someone new because they are likely to feel the same.
Making friends in person will have a positive impact on your mood and your grades. Find at least one person in each of your classes to contact if you miss a class or have a question about an assignment.
Bonus Tip: If you’re able to make one or more friends in every class, you’ll have a ready-made study group when it comes to exam time.
3. Reach Out If You Need Support
It’s crucial to prioritize your mental health and overall wellness. Readjusting to in-person learning combined with the experience of studying abroad will be a transition that can create additional stress for international students. Whether you’re overwhelmed by your workload or feeling anxious about transitioning back to campus life, share your feelings with a teacher, counsellor, or even a classmate.
You should also familiarize yourself with the support services your school offers, such as:
- Peer support groups
- Text and chat helplines, with free counselling in many languages so that international students can communicate in their preferred language
- Virtual medical care clinics
There is power in asking for help when you need it, and you’ll find that those you reach out to will do their best to support you.
4. Don’t Put Too Much Pressure on Yourself
If you didn’t receive the grade you hoped for, slept through your alarm, or were completely lost in your lecture—try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Always do your best to be kind to yourself, especially as you return to campus during COVID-19.
It’s important to appreciate that you’re not only adjusting to a new country, you’re also readjusting to in-person learning. It’s essential to meet every misstep along the way with kindness. One bad grade doesn’t determine your GPA, one missed class doesn’t mean you can’t be early tomorrow, and one difficult lecture doesn’t mean you can’t reach out for clarity.
Returning to campus will be a fantastic opportunity for international students to get the most out of their study abroad journey and truly soak in their host country’s culture.