LSU Label volunteer Laura Núñez talks about the challenges and reality of being an international student at university and touches on her personal experiences. Her inspirational words bring to light how the university community made the transition from school to higher education easier.
Living away from home can be a new exciting experience but also quite scary! Especially if you have only just turned into an adult, moving away from home can be a very daunting experience for most people. As an adult and university student, you need to learn to organise yourself like never before. There is no longer someone always walking by your side, like in school, and your family cannot be there all the time in person.
I am from Spain and have always lived in Madrid. I also have a particular type of closeness and confidentiality with my family that I do not have with anyone else. As an international student, this new living situation can be quite difficult, especially being so far from home.
Firstly, the culture is different to your own country. You are not as used to it and can feel a bit out of place or awkward trying to reach out to new people or make friends.
In school, it was relatively easy to make friends; you are led by the hand. But here, you feel more alone, and everyone begins to have different lives, which can be hard to get used to. You are distanced from your family and out of sync with your usual hobbies or routine. You may ask yourself questions along the lines of: “What am I doing here in a different country, alone?”, “am I making the right choice?” – often, there is no one around you to answer them. You may start to doubt whether you like your course or other things you haven’t questioned before because you feel out of place living alone. Especially in the first year, when you may not have made many friends yet- the world seems to spin too quickly!
The downfalls, however, may seem like they are something detrimental now, but they allow you to learn. In my first year, it was challenging to adapt. But I realised what truly makes me happy, and by putting myself in a situation that forced me not to procrastinate and to organise myself quickly- I found I could lead a more fulfilling life. This helps you mature and be happier while at home as well; it may highlight issues with yourself you didn’t know you had. You can then start enjoying time with yourself, enjoying simple things like the taste of your coffee and going on lovely afternoon walks. It is essential to know your limits, try new things, and not be afraid of making mistakes. You might even discover hobbies that you may have never discovered remaining in your comfort zone. You learn to pick out flowers from cement and see there can be happiness everywhere!
Moreover, there is a sense of belonging via the university’s sports, activities and the many societies they offer. They allow you to connect with things you genuinely like in a way you cannot do during school. University provides the perfect time to develop your independence and have fun. There is no more doing things you don’t enjoy, and you feel a sense of relief focusing on what you are passionate about academically and externally. In such a prestigious university, you get the chance to engage with other cultures and see other exciting new points of view, which you wouldn’t have otherwise done.
In conclusion, moving out by yourself and becoming an adult in university may seem complicated to begin with; however, these hardships allow you to get to know yourself better, be more independent, and focus on what you really like. You get to know beautiful new places and people; it is worth a shot.
Edited by: Caitlin Phillips – Lifestyle Editor
Header designed by: Sarim Mangi – Head of Design