This blog post was written by Emma, MA student in Wellness and Spa Service Design and Management at University of Tartu.
University is a thrilling experience. You have the opportunity ahead of you to live independently, enjoy your newfound independence, meet friends, and pursue a subject that interests you.
But the process can be intimidating at first. The move to Estonia was a bit intimidating for me when I got here newly. I have lived abroad for a few years but moving from one country to another could make one feel isolated. For others, it could be your first trip away from home, family, and friends. When you combine a foreign environment with new responsibilities and expectations, it is natural to feel disconnected, lonely, and concerned about your mental well-being.
These issues are not limited to undergraduates in their first year. Isolation might strike at any point during your studies. Mature students may face difficulties for a variety of factors.
Photo credit: Renee Altrov
Regardless of what stage you are at in your academic career, it is critical to remember that such experiences are completely normal and that you are not isolated. Here are some helpful suggestions that have been very useful for me, and I believe they can also enable anyone to make the best possible use of their time at university, most especially stop any feelings of isolation.
Tip 1: Make acquaintances with somebody you feel connected with
When you're feeling alone it's simple to isolate yourself and disconnect from everybody else, yet this is one of the most detrimental actions to take. Begin by reaching out to a professional or somebody (for example, somebody that you share a room with or a friend you have connected with on the course), someone you feel you can trust with the issues you are facing. You will be surprised that this person may also be facing some loneliness issues or have similar emotions. It was not difficult for me to find someone to connect with and it was interesting to find out that this person needed that connection as well. Most importantly, it was her own first time travelling out of her native country.
Photo credit: Rasmus Jurkatam
Tip 2: Develop an established pattern
I decided that I needed to establish a pattern that works best for me. While it may be challenging to figure out a regimen throughout the chaotic initial days of university, it is of the utmost importance to develop some kind of regimen that you can follow as you get acquainted with university life and the new environment. The regimen can be a 'Me Time' when you go shopping (even if it is window shopping), go to the university gym, or go to the spa for relaxation purposes. My own ‘Me’ time was to go shopping and just get to know most of the major shopping malls.
Photo credit: Peter Paxx
Tip 3: Maintaining relationships with friends and loved ones
While it is crucial to engage with the new environment and meet new acquaintances, talking with relatives and close friends constitutes one of the finest methods to lift your spirits. This is why it is essential to maintain contact with these key people and always make out time to make calls or have video conversations via channels such as Zoom. I always make regular calls to my family members who are also abroad in other countries. Sharing jokes, thoughts, and worries have always been helpful to quell any feelings of isolation here.
Tip 4: Set attainable objectives
Adopt an objective of conversing with a different another person at all your classes, presentations, or seminars, getting out to have a drink (tea or coffee) with at least one person among your coursemates, and joining an appropriate variety of occasions for socializing at least once a week (where this is possible). One may then advance toward bigger objectives, which might include connecting with some sort of team or social club and engaging in a new leisure activity.
Photo credit: Renee Altrov
Tip 5: Participate in some sort of group or club
Institutions are packed with recreational pursuits, social groups, and organizations. Be motivated to become part of one of the most effective methods for averting isolation in the university. Groups to become part of maybe a team that plays sports, a campus choir, university event coordinators, or a musical ensemble. This is one of the reasons that also inspired me to become a student ambassador.
Participation in a club or becoming a member of an association is an excellent opportunity to meet others who share similar passions. Getting involved will enable you to widen your circle of friends.
When should you consider specialist support?
The feelings of being lonely and feelings of missing home can be particularly severe for some individuals and may persist over time. Additional manifestations such as episodes of panic and depression and mental health issues such as despair and nervousness may develop because of this. If adverse feelings seem to control your life and you're feeling miserable most of the time, it's vital that you get assistance from a counselor which is available at the university.
Most importantly, enjoy the beautiful buzz of experience while you are studying!
Find out which international degree programmes are available for you in Estonia.
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