How African Students Can Stay Connected With Family While Studying Abroad
One of the biggest challenges that African students face when they move abroad is homesickness. Homesickness is not a literal sickness as the word implies. Rather, it is a strong longing for the comforts and familiarities of one’s home.
When you move across continents and live within a new culture, it is almost guaranteed that you are going to experience some sense of homesickness. To combat this feeling, you will need to keep in touch with your friends and family back home. Below, we outline some of the best ways to do that.
The rise of social media has made it possible for people to keep in touch across the globe with maximum convenience. Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have billions of users, which means that it is more than likely that most of your friends and relatives are using them.
Besides having messaging and calling features, platforms like Facebook send you reminders when someone has a birthday, allow you to join and form groups, run live sessions, etc. You can take advantage of these features to keep your friends and family updated about your experiences and encounters while studying abroad.
Partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the world has fully embraced video calls. Platforms such as Zoom and Google Meets make it easy for people to connect over video calls no matter where they are in the world. As an African student studying abroad, you can take advantage of these platforms to keep in touch with your friends and family back home.
While there is no need to do this every day, a video call every other week will help you stay connected with people you care about. It will give you a more realistic sense of what is going on back home.
Creating social media or artistic content around your experience studying abroad is a great way of keeping your friends and family updated about your journey. If you love writing, you can consider starting a blog where you document things such as your first day experiences in a foreign country, the challenges that you are facing, the nature of the classes you are taking, etc. If writing is not your area of interest, there are numerous other platforms that allow you to document your experiences, for example Tik Tok and YouTube. Currently, there are many African students who have built a large following by creating regular content on these platforms. The content you create can serve as a diary of sorts, helping you to keep track of your personal and professional development while abroad.
Studying abroad does not mean that you have to skip important events in your family and friends lives. If there is a birthday or a graduation event in your home, consider getting a gift for them. There are many affordable courier services that you can use to send a gift back home. You can be sure that when your friends and relatives receive a gift from you, they will think fondly of you – it will assure them that you haven’t forgotten all about them.
One of the common challenges you will face while studying abroad is time differences. For instance, if you are from Uganda and you are studying in Canada, you can expect to be behind your country’s time zone by at least six hours. This, of course, means that finding an appropriate time to communicate with folks back home can be challenging.
Another challenge you may encounter is lack of affordable internet access. While this is increasingly rare, if you study in a country such as Cuba that is still under heavy sanctions, you may find it very difficult to have the kind of internet access you need for regular video calls back home. In these cases, you must plan carefully so that you are able to access the resources that you need to keep in touch with your people in your home country.
Studying abroad does not automatically mean that you will be alienated from your friends and family back home. You should plan to actively use the tools available to reach out and keep them posted about your study abroad journey.
If possible, you should also plan to make visits to your home country on a regular basis. This will help you stay connected to your people, and should you wish to come back after studying abroad, you are more likely to have an easier time adjusting back to your home country.