Lifting the spirits of students with homesickness
In January, Baris Altinoz and Ramona Valimareanu organised a day on a topic that people don't tend to talk about much: homesickness. Studying in a different country is an exciting challenge and home can sometimes feel a long way away. The third-year students of Media and Entertainment Management (English-language variant) decided to lift their fellow students' spirits with an original, activity-filled day.
'Ramona is from Romania and I am Turkish. We both felt homesick and didn't know what to do about it', says Baris. They were inspired by a seminar about the experiences of expats and wanted to organise a similar event at Inholland The Hague. 'Foreign students are often very ambitious but sometimes abandon their studies because they miss their home country too much. They get confused about their identity and their home and lose self-confidence as a result.' A day filled with masterclasses, workshops, debates, music performances and team building aimed to give them some encouragement and support.
One masterclass was about the psychological aspects of living in a different country, and a German Inholland colleague spoke about the journey that led her to settle in the Netherlands. The last lecture provided lots of tips to combat homesickness. The day ended with snacks from all over the world. Baris explains, 'Good food brings people together!' The activities were also intended for Dutch students. 'They ought to know how their foreign classmates are feeling. But Dutch people can also benefit from this knowledge, as they may also end up studying or working abroad.'
Promovideo Lost in Translation.
Tip: be patient
Born into a family of diplomats, Baris has already lived in many different countries. Ramona is currently studying in Portugal: 'First of all, I denied the fact that I was feeling homesick. Then I had to admit I really missed my family, friends and Romanian nature and food. I handle it by seeing the people I love as often as possible.' What practical tips can she offer Inholland students? 'Be patient. Don't expect to integrate as soon as you go to a different country. This is an unrealistic expectation that can cause homesickness.'
Ramona notes that Inholland is already very attentive to foreign students. 'Certainly in our programme, which tries to connect students in a "family community". If you are struggling with something, there are always people who are willing to listen.' In collaboration with Inholland, Baris and Ramona hope to organise more activities for foreign and other travelling students.