Adapting to a UK university as an international student parent

Blessy moved to the UK from India to study, and she is also a parent. She explains how moving to the UK was initially difficult: quarantine and lockdown made it challenging to get the things that she and her family needed. She also shares how she adapted to living in a shared house for the first time with her son. Finally, she talks about how online learning didn’t initially meet her expectations, and how connecting with her coursemates helped her build confidence.

Blessy talks about her experience of being an international student and a parent during the pandemic. She discusses the difficulty of adapting to life in a new country, and the challenges of studying remotely throughout the lockdown.

Video transcript

Hello!

I am Blessy, an international student from Anglia Ruskin University. I would like to share my own experience of moving to UK to study as a parent, and how this affected my mental wellbeing.

I’m kind of person who used to spend lots of time with friends travelling places and exploring things around me. But this global pandemic has turned my life upside down and affected my mental health.

Being an international student from India, I had many challenges. The first challenge is that me and my family came to UK during the time of national lockdown. As soon as we entered into UK, we kept ourselves quarantined for 10 days. And after that my classes started next week, but we could not access it due to the lack of Wi-Fi connection. So we approached the broadband service and they said it would take at least three weeks fix it due to the lockdown. This created a kind of fear in me since I was missing my classes. Also, I was very scared to go out and get the basic necessities because the virus was on the peak.

On top of all this, the climate was very challenging and we could not get the sweaters, jackets and baby wears suitable for this climate due to the closure of shops. And it was very difficult to go through such a situation, all this created a kind of stress in me and at one point, I decided to go back to India, I was searching for ways like if there is any way to return back to India. I think at one point, I made up my mind and decided to distract myself from these unhelpful thoughts. So I decided to spend quality time with my kid teaching him some useful stuffs. And I used to talk to my friends over the phone, watching some good movies, reading books, etc. And all this changed my mind and made my days better.

The second challenge was it was my first experience staying in a shared apartment. In India we lived in an independent house with all facilities. After coming to UK, since the cost of living is too high, we decided to opt for a shared house. Again, a sort of stress developed since it was a new experience to adjust to. And with having a two-year-old son, I struggled very hard to put him inside a single room and I felt very bad to see him struggle to get adjusted to the change. All this got into my mind and it was a real struggle.

As days goes on, there was a little ease in lockdown rules, so I decided to go to a nearby park. I used to go there spending my time by walking, doing exercise and relaxing and this gave me a better day and it helped me to learn a lot of new things also. Even though each day arose with a problem, I realise I learnt to tackle it and It made me much stronger. Also I sought the help of the NHS website where I could read few stuffs and it really helped me to overcome my mental health problems.

Finally, the third challenge was a lack of face-to-face classes in university during the national lockdown. Actually, I came to the UK with lots of dreams about my university life, the learning process and the latest exposure to various facilities available in the university. Due to pandemic, classes were carried out mainly on online platforms. For me, this created a lack of interest in studies.

And also I was very much worried about my project submission since the way of teaching and learning is completely different in the U01K. And also I felt that I could not get proper support through online platforms such that face to face interactions gives, and worrying about it had made me very weak and I felt very low and this created a lots of negative thoughts inside me. Something which helped us a lot is that me and my friends decided to form a WhatsApp group and we carried out discussions and shared some important points and helped each other in giving feedback and this really worked well and we all completed our first trimester successfully.

Mental health problems are very important to be addressed. So pay some attention to it, take care of it, in order to live a happy and healthy life.

Thank you.