Hi, I am an international student and always been a family-oriented kind of person. I’m very close to them and I miss them so much. When I came here I thought I would be able to visit them on my breaks but with borders closed I haven’t been able to. I can’t concentrate in class, it’s so hard to focus! What should I do?
Thanks for your question – I know many students struggle with this same problem, and of course Covid-19 and all the adjustments this has forced has made this harder. It sounds like you’re dealing with a number of issues; homesickness, adjusting to a new country and university course, and of course all the stress that naturally comes with being a student.
In dealing with problems of concentration and focus, I would suggest you try mindfulness meditation. There is evidence that this practice can lead to a number of benefits including enhanced sustained attention. Our website has some guided exercises you might find useful. We also regularly run workshops on ‘Optimising Focus and Attention’ that teach strategies you may find useful.
While nothing can replace your family while you’re here, it’s important to consider other ways you can feel connected to people, even if it’s temporary. Isolation is an added stressor that can make other demands in your life feel harder, and we all need support. Make sure you are staying in regular contact with your family where possible, and consider ways to increase your in person contact while you’re here (and when it’s allowed!) such as joining some clubs or activities at the university or organising something social with people you’ve already met.
Finally, managing stress is an important part of being a successful and happy student, and there are a number of ways to make this easier. You can find some useful resources here. Self care is always important and involves looking after your physical health, taking time out for yourself to relax or have fun, and connecting with other people around you. Consider what activities you know help you when you are feeling stressed, and think about what supports you have here.
If you’d like to talk this over with someone one-on-one, counselling at Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is free of charge, completely confidential and counsellors are experienced in helping students manage similar situations to what you describe.