Predeparture prep: Understanding the emotional stages of studying in Australia

10 October 2019

Predeparture prep: Understanding the 5 emotional stages of studying in Australia

Choosing to study in Australia is a massive, life-changing decision, one that you shouldn’t take lightly. On a personal level, studying outside of Canada will no doubt expand your personal and professional horizons. You’ll meet new people and develop your independence. You’ll also end up with a career you’ve been dreaming about!

emotional stages
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when you’re an international student!

At this stage, you’re almost ready to go. You’re excited and happy and can’t wait to get started on the path to becoming a doctor, a dentist, a lawyer…. It’s also a good time to take a step back to really think about what you’re getting yourself into. It’s time for a mental checkup: How prepared are you? How prepared do you feel?

In order to help you get on the right track before you leave to study in Australia (or New Zealand!), here are some stages you may go through:

1. Excitement

Happy? Thrilled? Geared? Super optimistic? Awesome!

It’s totally normal for you to be feeling really excited and enthusiastic for all the new and exciting things to come. Harness it! You are what you think, after all, and positive energy will go a long way to help counter uncertainty when you come across new new situations and challenges. Create your own positive mantra: I can do anything. I can do anything. I can do anything….

2. Disorientation

Where am I? Who are these people? What have I done?

Yep, all normal reactions. Especially with a week or two of jet lag and especially if you don’t know anyone at your uni, it’s common to feel disoriented. It usually begins after you’ve somewhat settled—after a week or two.  So what now? Well, that’s why we hold our Predeparture Meet & Greets, have OzTREKK Facebook groups, and hold OzTREKK Orientations on campus. All of these provide you with the opportunity to meet new friends, classmates, and maybe future roommates!

Think you might need a bit of extra help? Visit your university’s international office; they have lots of experience with helping students get settled in their surroundings!

3. Homesickness

Ah, yes. Good ol’ homesickness. Just recognize that it’s totally normal and it will totally pass. Helpful tips from OzTREKK students include setting up your accommodation with some familiar things from home: photos, mugs, music; Skyping with family on a regular basis; and most important, getting involved with student groups and meeting others in your classes. Nothing staves off homesickness better than getting involved.

But I’m usually a loner. What do I do? If you find it tedious to spend too much time with people, at least schedule one “participation event” per week. Many students find hanging out with fellow classmates after a class or scheduling a study session to be the easiest way to get in some socializing time—without feeling overwhelmed.

4. Loneliness

Okay wait. I’m not that homesick. Now I just feel… lonely?

Normal! As with homesickness, loneliness is best cured by the positive attitude you had harnessed earlier and that “I can do anything” mantra you pummeled into your brain. Because you can. 

Now is the time to step out of your comfort zone. Join a student group. Meet friends for coffee. Go on that weekend tour to the beach with classmates. Once you’ve begun to cement real friendships, loneliness and homesickness fade. Quickly.

5. Peace and contentment

Some people reach this stage sooner than others. After the confusion, the exhaustion, and the homesickness have passed, a new wave of peace and contentment will wash over you. Once you’re settled and have a routine, you’ll start to get that excitement back. Take some time to really observe your surroundings. See, taste, touch, smell, hear… feel. You are studying at a world-class institution in beautiful Australia!

This is your experience of a lifetime, and there’s no way you’re going to spend it feeling homesick and discouraged, right?

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