Valentina Figueroa, from Canada, is a University of Stirling student currently studying the MSc Strategic Communication and Public Relations course. In this blog, Valentina shares some of her advice for adjusting to the transition to studying abroad as an international student.
Making the decision to study abroad for the first time can be scary, and adjusting to a new country, lifestyle, and culture is not so easy either. We tend to focus more on the things that we need before embarking on our new adventure, and we forget to keep in mind what we need to settle in the new place. Just like me, many of you probably worry about that once you have arrived, you start feeling the changes and the culture shock.
I recently moved to Stirling to complete my Masters and I wish I had read some tips on how to settle in Stirling as a student. But you don’t have to worry about that because I’m here to the rescue! Here are four tips that have helped me to adjust living in Stirling:
Be a Tourist
One of the best things about moving to a completely new country is that everything is new for you, and there are so many places you can explore. In Stirling, for instance, you can go to The Monument of William Wallace, The Stirling Castle, The Old Town Jail, and The Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum. These are just some of the main attractions in Stirling, but if you go there you will be able to learn in-depth the history and culture of Stirling. If you like outdoor activities, this city is perfect for you! There are a lot of trails and mountains where you can walk, run, and bike, and some of these trails will lead you high enough to be able to oversee the beautiful city of Stirling.
Keep yourself active
One of my favourite hobbies is exercising. I don’t do it for the sole purpose of getting in good shape, but instead, I do it to have good mental health; especially in situations that can cause me anxiety like changing my whole life. Participation in physical activity can increase your self-esteem and reduce stress and anxiety. You can do so by going to the gym on campus, or simply going for a short walk. Keeping myself active has had a positive impact on my health, studies, and work.
Besides, we are very lucky to choose to live in Scotland thanks to its outdoor playgrounds. I never get bored of walking around the city as the scenery is always breathtaking.
It is not always easy to find friends in class, especially during Covid times when some classes are online. Thankfully the University of Stirling has a variety of clubs and societies. I personally think it is one of the best ways to meet people and start making Stirling your new home. This is probably so cliché, but home is not always a physical place, but the people in it. Trust me, you are probably not the only one who joins a club to find friends so don’t feel embarrassed about it!
Stay Connected with your Family & Friends
Now, I’m not saying that you need to cut connections with people from back home. I think keeping in contact also eases the process of adjusting to studying abroad. At the beginning of the semester, I tried to talk to a family member every day. Obviously, after the first few weeks you start getting busier so it gets harder to do it everyday, but always try to keep in contact with your family and friends. They know you best and it’s important to have them with you along the process if you can.