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Thursday, December 7th, 2017

How do you deal with homesickness when you’re studying in Australia?

You’ve got your confirmation of enrolment, your short-term accommodation arranged, and you’re almost packed and ready to go.

What have you forgotten?

How do you deal with homesickness when you're studying in Australia?

You’re not alone—tips to survive homesickness

Believe it or not, one of the most frequent concerns OzTREKK students encounter is homesickness. In theory, you feel prepared for your journey to Australia, and you’re excited to begin this new stage in your life, so it may come as a surprise to you to find you are missing family members and the comforts of home more than you expected.

This is totally normal!

In general, homesickness kicks in as soon as the frenetic pace of starting your classes and familiarizing yourself with your campus has morphed into routine. What then?

Well, first, it can be very helpful to not ignore the possibility of homesickness before you leave. People think it won’t happen to them and that’s the first big mistake. If you accept the fact that you might be homesick, it will make things easier. Being prepared helps, too.

Because we love to stay in touch with our students, many have shared their tips to deal with homesickness when they’re studying in Australia, and of course we’re going to share them with you!

Bring the familiar

Sometimes just the sight of photos of your family members is enough to snap you out of the homesickness funk. If there is something small and light that can fit easily into your suitcase and you think it will help, bring it along!

Get Skype

Of course you already know this one! Skype gives you instant access to family and friends back home, and it’s cheap. Once you’ve figured out the time zone differences, you’re good to go!

Explore your surroundings

You’re in your room, staring at the wall. It’s time to get out of there! When feeling homesick, one of the worse things you can do is to mope around feeling sorry for yourself. Getting out of your place and exploring your city is a great distraction from any home-related anxieties. It also helps you become familiar with your surroundings and that in itself can be comforting. Take some time to stroll through the park or the area where you live. Actually look at the buildings. Find one near your home that will help be a beacon of familiarity.

Look after yourself

If you’re stuffing your face with junk food and forgetting to exercise, you can bet your mental health will be heading into a downward spiral. And if that happens, who will have the energy or desire to study? It sounds simple, but eating healthily and getting some exercise and regular sleep can really help to boost your well-being.

Give yourself time and praise

Okay, it’s been two weeks and you still haven’t snapped out of it. No worries. Take an evening to yourself to examine your reason for being in Australia: to study and to get that degree! That in itself is an amazing, brave thing, so be proud of yourself. Do you know how many people are too scared to do what you’ve just done? Give yourself a pat on the back and know that you have what it takes to not only get your degree, but also to have an great time doing it! Positive self-talk is healthy and will counteract the negative emotions you may be feeling.

Meet other Canadians

Know that you’re not alone. Meeting fellow Canadians is an instant pick-me-up. OzTREKK hosts orientation sessions for new students, giving them an immediate access to multiple Canadian connections on campus. We also provide you with a “Student Contact List” that lists everyone who is in your university and program. Not everyone chooses to attend our orientations or to be on this list, but we recommend that you do! If you’re interested, please be sure to contact your OzTREKK admissions officer. And guess what? This also gives you the opportunity to support others who may be feeling homesick.

One day at a time

Sometimes it’s easier to take it one day at a time. Setting mini-goals or achievements for your stay helps, too! It might be helpful to take each part of the process in steps: Made it to Vancouver, made it to Sydney, made it to the hotel. Day one done, day two done, etc. It’s a handy little trick and before you know it, you’re on day 248. Easy-peasy.

Keep a journal or a blog

Another handy-dandy OzTREKK student tip? Writing in a journal or starting an “Adventures in Australia” blog or vlog is an excellent way to keep track of your progress—and to share your experiences with everyone back home. If you can regularly keep up with an online blog (even Facebook or Twitter posts), you will receive encouraging messages from everyone! At the end of your journey, you will have an amazing record of your time in Australia. Show your grandkids. Also, we love following our students on social media!

Ask for help

Sometimes, even after attempting the above, you still may find yourself missing home a little too much, and this is where Anxiety likes to step in and reek havoc. Worrying about your studies or your finances will only make things worse, so take steps to sort any issues out or get support as soon as they arise. Your university has international student support groups, as well as student groups. Ask your university for a list of groups or student counsellors or upper-year students who may be able to help, then contact them!

Even though it may feel like it sometimes, you’re not alone. Many people have endured homesickness and have come out on the other side happier, stronger, and braver. You can do it!

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We hope this list helps you feel more prepared for your journey to study in Australia! Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns—we’re here to help: info@oztrekk.com

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Top 5 tips for international students starting at JCU

Heading to JCU Medical School or JCU Dental School? As a new international student, there are several things that you should know to make the most of your experience at James Cook University.

5 tips for international students starting at JCU

Make the most of your time at JCU!

1. Get connected!

Sign up to news updates via the university website. Join your host campus Facebook page or faculty group and connect with other students who are studying or planning to study in your program. When you arrive, you will find that you already have friends to help you settle in.

2. Plan your study: Prioritize!

With all the welcome distractions of university life, it is easy to lose sight of your academic goals. Planning your study can help to organise your time and priorities. The teaching style and academic standard may be different from what you are accustomed to, so be prepared for a change in study routine and teaching methods. Keeping on top of your studies will free you up to enjoy what your new environment has to offer.

3. Join in!

Moving to a different country gives you the opportunity to meet students of different backgrounds and cultures as well as learn about life in Australia. When you first arrive it is important to explore the community and meet people.

The groups and events on offer at JCU give you an opportunity to mingle and make friends with the local students as well as other international students. As an international student, know that you are not alone. There are currently more than 6,000 international students from more than 100 different countries enrolled at JCU. You may find others who share interests, beliefs and classes with you. Make the most of the opportunities to meet new people. Whether you are interested in playing football, speaking Spanish or cycling, there are many clubs you can be a part of. With the help and support of your fellow students, staff and International Student Support team you will fit in and make life-long friends.

4. Explore your host country!

Don’t return home with regrets. Make a list of all the attractions and locations that you would like to see and plan to make it happen! The best thing about traveling is discovering and experiencing new and exciting places. You will see extraordinary things, meet great people and create life-long memories. Make the most of it!

5. The support team is there to help!

Keep in mind that the International Student Support team at JCU here to help you. The support team acts as your first point of contact once arriving in Australia to study. They will support you and ensure your smooth transition to life and study at JCU.

JCU student services

Student services provide a variety of on-campus student support services which you can access at any point of your studies to assist you. Arriving early will allow more time to adjust to the culture and ensure the transition is a smooth experience. After arriving on campus either in Cairns or Townsville, please visit the Student Centre as soon as possible so that they can provide you with details of the JCU Orientation program.

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Do you have questions about getting started at James Cook University. Contact us at info@oztrekk.com!