Our MSc Marketing & Strategy ambassador, Shreya shares her experience of studying during the COVID-19 pandemic and the strategies she has put in place to avoid feeling homesick whilst living and studying away from home.
Starting my university life during the COVID-19 pandemic was intimidating especially when I had to begin a new life away from home. I remember walking into my accommodation on my first day, and I felt as if my heart had sunk - I missed home. I lay on my bed staring at the ceiling feeling lost. However, when I walked into the kitchen and met my flatmates for the first time, within a few minutes I knew I had found my new family away from home. We started organising small get-togethers and fun activities such as cooking, celebrating festivals and even dancing. After a long day of studying at WBS, it felt warm and comforting coming home to my flatmates.
Making time to celebrate different cultures with Halloween, Diwali, Thanksgiving, and Christmas
During my first term, we managed to celebrate several festivities together which certainly helped me to feel more at home. The first one being Halloween which was completely new to me. I was thrilled at the thought of wearing fancy costumes of my favourite character. Me and my flatmates organised a ‘Cosplay’ party in our flat kitchen which we decorated to make it look like a scary house. We then celebrated Diwali, the festival of lights, where we performed a small ritual and ate Indian food. I think the most exciting part of this celebration was making Indian sweets together and decorating our rooms with fairy lights and lamps. It also gave us the perfect opportunity to find out more about different cultures and traditions. At the beginning of December, we then decided to play secret Santa, and we planned Thanksgiving in the most elaborate way where we cooked turkey, cranberry sauce, and mac and cheese. We played numerous board games and danced together, after all, it ‘tis the season to be jolly’! The celebrations we planned together truly made my first term so much more enjoyable and helped me to avoid feeling homesick.
Participating in campus activities
I was also impressed with the facilities and activities that were organised on campus. As an international student, these events helped me to acclimatise and adapt to my new life in the UK. The university organised a traditional Christmas meal for all students that were either staying on campus or were unable to travel home due to the pandemic. They also distributed board games which I thought was a really nice touch and gave us all something to do in the evenings seeing as we couldn’t go out and socialise.
During my time at WBS so far I have realised that the friendships I have made here will be everlasting. When I fell sick one of my flatmates took care of me and prepared me a warm meal which was so kind and made me feel so much especially feeling unwell so far from home. My flatmate and I also made an impromptu plan to buy some bicycles which was one of the best ideas we had. It’s providing us with a great way to exercise and I find it really helps me to relax and clear my mind.
Taking the opportunity to develop with online guest lectures
Despite the social distancing that is currently in place along with adapting to online learning, WBS continues to proactively arrange events such as online guests lectures and career development session. I have found that my tutors have been really been approachable despite me not being able to speak to them in a face-to-face situation. I have found online learning to be very good and I have never felt a disconnect between the course and the teaching.
Building coping strategies with the Wellbeing Support Team
However there have been days where it has been cold and grey, and I have missed home. At Warwick, the Wellbeing Support team are very approachable and they have specially designed sessions for coping up with homesickness such as ‘Change Management’. These sessions allow students to learn strategies and gain advice on how best to look after ourselves during these uncertain times. I have found it really comforting and reassuring knowing that I have someone to talk to if I am ever struggling.
My journey at WBS hasn’t been the easiest but it has definitely been very unique, and I feel proud to be pursuing my postgraduate course during this time. I feel that my course and my experience of studying amidst a pandemic is preparing me for a digital future and I wouldn’t want to do it anywhere else. During this uncertain time, I have found certainty in knowing that I am safe, comfortable and I am still able to grow both academically and as a person. I have used this time to discover new ways to engage myself and rediscover my passions. What started as a challenge has now become part of my routine, and I take pride in saying that I have learned to adapt and cope with the current situation.