Coping over Christmas – an international student’s perspective

By Wanjiru N. Muchiri, 2nd year Filmmaking student

My name is Wanjiru, I’m a second year filmmaking student. I come from Kenya, and our seasons range from either rainy, sunny and everything in between. The only version of winter that I’ve ever known is about 18 degrees so you can imagine my shock the first time I visited the UK landed in Heathrow and left the airport. I had never been hit with such extreme weather, my mum and I couldn’t believe it. We still laugh about it today. Well, that was in 2019 I never thought I would spend two Christmas holidays away from home. Nobody warned me that it can get very lonely or how cold snow actually is. Also things like Seasonal Affective Disorder and how you just genuinely start to miss the warmth that comes with being around family and friends.

Initially, it really affected me. It wasn’t any better experiencing university online or not having friends to soften the blow that came with loneliness. I cried for 3 days straight, there wasn’t anywhere to go that would distract me from the reality that was happening, I couldn’t go home and I couldn’t physically receive the support that aided me in getting through such tough times. Having been diagnosed with Depression and Anxiety didn’t make it any easier as well.

However, I went through it and through therapy I got the tools that helped me get through that phase as well as the support from my partner.

Here are 3 things that helped me cope during that Christmas period that I intend to use this year as well:

● Use the time provided to focus on doing things that you truly love it can be cooking or binging on your favorite Christmas movies (Harry Potter movies and Disney Classics are my absolute favorite) you can try recreating a dish that represents what home is for you or read more on things that spark your interest,

● Speak about how you feel or journal your feelings: I can’t put enough emphasis on how important it is to have a healthy outlet for your emotions. While doing this you’ll really come to realize that you’re not alone and other people experience the same things that you are feeling. There’s immense comfort in feeling and releasing those emotions as opposed to bottling it all up

● Say yes to opportunities that you’re presented with: If a friend invites you for thanksgiving or a Christmas dinner and you’re truly open to attending, do so. It’s super easy to be reluctant to the invite because of being unfamiliar with a number of things but be open to experiences that may provide or give a sense of comfort in a different area.

Being alone during the Christmas Holidays can be very triggering, ensure that you take the utmost care for your emotional and physical wellbeing. NTU also offers great support during this time so make use of the resources they provide. All the best and Happy Holidays!

Our Student Support will still be here to support you during the winter break for more information on support and services available to NTU students over the winter break head to the Student Hub

For help, advice and resources whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.

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