What was it like for your parents when you left to study?
They coped better with me leaving because they were more prepared; I was the second one to leave home, so they knew what to expect then. My sister had left for the U.S. a year ago, which was difficult for the entire family but especially our mom. One time, she cried when we bought some avocados and my sister — who loves avocados — wasn’t there to enjoy it with us. She was more composed when I left, but she once mentioned that she intentionally keeps herself busy to cope with our absence. Although my parents both admit that they miss us often, they have accepted that we will not be around all the time.
How do you keep in touch, and how often?
We keep in touch through video calls and texts mainly via Messenger. The frequency of our calls depends on how busy everyone is, but I text them at least once every two days to let them know I’m doing okay, which they appreciate. I also let them know if I’m busy or traveling so that they don’t have to worry about my lack of communication. We usually call once or twice a week now, but we used to talk more often when I first left home.
TIP: I recommend keeping in touch with your family at least a few times a week, just to let them know you're thinking about them. It doesn't have to be anything major, it could just be a weather update, or what you're working on in a certain course.
Do your parents worry about you? what do you do to ease their concerns?
They don’t worry about me as much as they used to anymore, because they now understand that I will be fine on my own. However, my mom still gets concerned if I don’t reply to her messages or don’t respond as often, so I make sure that I talk to them and tell them about my life as much as I can. A lot of my friends are also international students and I have witnessed varied levels of concerns from parents.
TIP: The best thing for us as students to do would be to understand our guardians, communicate with them, and keep them updated on our lives to let them know how we are doing.
My parents also tell me that keeping busy has helped them not worry so much about us. My mom recently joined a university to get her Master’s degree, and she often tells me that this has been the perfect time for her to pursue education.
TIP: We have a family group chat where we keep everybody updated on what is happening here as well as back home, so I think the best way to ease concerns for everyone is to keep in touch with family and keep yourself occupied.
How often do you go home?
I try to go home once every year, but that wasn’t possible due to the pandemic. I’m fortunate because the longest I have not been home is a year and a half, but I know that some of my international friends have not been home for much longer.
How do you deal with being away from home?
It was difficult at first — I missed the comfort of home, my family, the food...everything. Being in a new environment was not easy, especially since I could not fly back home for months. But I started making friends here and kept myself busy. I started working so I was alright after a couple of months. I still miss home and my family, but I also appreciate my life here.
TIP: Find something to keep yourself busy — Whether that’s a new hobby or a campus club, having something to do can be the best way to combat homesickness or when missing a loved one.
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