Studying in the UK: Have I made the right decision?

Blog for students
03 March 2022
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On University Mental Health Day, #WeAreInternational Student Ambassador Sara reflects on her decision to study in the UK and offers tips for international students who may be feeling homesick.

Studying abroad basically means having to ’book slots‘ to see your family, as it includes much more effort now that we are apart. Making sure it doesn’t clash with university, taking time off work, booking flights, and getting to and from the airport are just some of the things that I have to think about when planning a trip home.

Even though it’s a lot, you can get used to it fairly quickly. The one thing, however, which I personally can’t get used to is saying goodbye. Despite living in the UK for four years now, I must admit that I cry every time I have to leave my family, and every time I wonder if it ever gets easier. If I’m the only one who experiences it. If I’m perhaps too emotional or weird for feeling this way. But most importantly, I wonder if other international students find it hard as well. If this sounds familiar, keep reading.

At the beginning of my journey here in the UK, I thought that the sadness I felt was a sign that I had made the wrong decision. Maybe I’m not meant to be abroad. Maybe I shouldn’t have applied for university so far away or maybe I’m simply not built for this.

Now, after four years I understand that even though I feel sad when I leave my family, it doesn’t mean that I made the wrong decision to study in the UK. Yes, I do feel sad when my mum drops me off at the airport, but the moment I land and reunite with my friends – my family here – it goes away. It goes away because I absolutely love the life I’m building here, even when it gets hard or lonely. So please, if you have ever felt the same and thought “oh my god, perhaps I shouldn’t have done this as it doesn’t seem to be getting easier” – trust me, it doesn’t mean that you made the wrong decision. It only means that you love your family and enjoy spending time with them. Maybe it will never get easier, but remember that you’re not alone here, and that there is support available to you if you are feeling sad or homesick.

It is very important that you recognise your feelings and acknowledge them for what they are. We have all made a big decision (a good one!) to move to a different country for our studies, and these feelings are just a part of it. However, I know that sometimes it can be hard to deal with these feelings, hence why I would like to point out a few tips, which I find helpful:


  1. Remember, it is okay to feel sad.
    Tip number one is perhaps not as practical, but important to mention in my opinion. Firstly, when you feel overwhelmed with these emotions just know, that it is completely alright to feel them. And if you sometimes feel like you are the only one – trust me, you are not.

  2. Remind yourself why you chose to study in the UK.

Feelings are always temporary, but what you are building here - your studies, your career, your future life, is long-term. Try to focus on the reasons why you decided to come here and remind yourself of all the great things you have already achieved thanks to the journey you embarked on. You moved to a completely different country to work on yourself and build a life you will love. And that is extremely brave, so be proud of yourself and keep going!

  1. Get support

I encourage you to speak up if you are feeling lonely and sad, as it is a really brave and important thing to do. Share your feelings with your friends and course mates, or seek support from your university. Your personal tutor is there to support you on a personal level as well, or you can reach out to the university wellbeing service, whose staff are there to help and listen to you. Don’t ever feel like you are alone or you have to face this alone. We all need that extra support sometimes and that’s totally okay!


Lastly, I know how overwhelming it can be. But if you surround yourself with people you love, spend some time doing (or finding) a hobby and focusing on your studies, I know that you will have an amazing time studying in the UK. And most importantly, if you are feeling lonely, reach out to your family and friends. Contact your university for support. And just know that you are part of a community of international students, who are probably feeling the same way as you.