As an international student from Canada, pursuing a Criminology MSc in England was a pretty easy decision. I wanted to learn in a new environment and be immersed in a different culture as well. At first, I was confident and excited about studying in a new country. However, that feeling began to dwindle during my first few weeks in Leicester.
The stresses of living in a new country can’t be stated enough, but there are supports to help you.
My experience moving in wasn’t easy. Even with the simple things, I found that culture shock had a negative impact on me. One of my first experiences in Leicester was going grocery shopping. Seemingly an easy task, I soon realized I was unfamiliar with the local currency and when counting the money at the register, I began to feel stressed. As the long line behind me grew, and after apologising many times (as a stereotypical Canadian, I’m inherently obligated to apologise), the cashier began to notice my distress. She helped me and alleviated my stress so much!
The employee told me there are plenty of kind people in England that will always be there to help. That was when I realised living in a different country wasn’t going to be so bad.
Academic life in a new country can be quite alarming. The lectures in the first week were overwhelming, especially when the lecturers were using new terminology. I thought my undergraduate in criminology would help me with the essential materials, however this was not the case. The word count of the assignments made me feel demoralised because I didn’t think I’d have enough time to complete the assignments well. I felt frustrated and stressed, as most students would feel too.
Not knowing what to do, I started to make a list. Writing all the assignment deadlines on a whiteboard helped me feel more organised. By being able to visualise my schedule, it meant I could plan my academic year. I have done this previously when I felt stressed about deadlines and it comforted me.
When I need a break from thinking about assignments, I go outside to take a breather. Near campus is Victoria Park, a lovely location where I like to walk to take my mind completely off my stresses. Being alone in a stress-free environment made me feel more comfortable in a new city.
Through my strict focus on assignments, I realised I didn’t make time for enjoying life in a new country. I decided to visit the Leicester Museum and Art Gallery, where they had an amazing display of Renaissance artwork. I would like to visit more museums in England, so I can appreciate the artistry of a different culture.
Meeting new people is an important part of living in a new city. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and socialise more so I went to the Freemen’s Common Recreational area. I met other students that were also settling into their new life. This shared experience connected us more on an emotional level and brightened my outlook on my new university experience. Connecting with new friends, who are fun to be around, made me more comfortable in a new setting.
Many individuals with similar stresses may find that their mental health issues worsen. As an individual who has previously suffered from mental health issues, I know therapy support can help with these troubles. Having a trained individual to speak with relieved many of my concerns, as it allowed me to speak freely in a safe environment.
The University of Leicester has many support systems for this. Mental Health Services are readily available on and off-campus. There are accessible academic services if you are struggling with your workload, such as one-to-ones with lecturers. The University of Leicester and the community itself are there to help.
Student Counselling and Wellbeing Service (On Campus Mental Health Services)
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm (some appointments may be available after 5pm).
Phone: 0116 223 1780
Online contact form: Self-referral form
Location: Student Services Centre, Charles Wilson Building
Togetherall (Off Campus Online Support from the University of Leicester partnered with the NHS)
Opening Hours: 24/7
University Academic Service Support
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 10:00am to 4:00pm
Phone: +44 (0)116 223 1132
Written by: Eddie Wong is a Canadian international student studying Criminology MSc from Oakville. His biggest areas of interest in criminology are offender rehabilitation and theories of crime. He also enjoys listening to music, reading, and travelling to different countries to be immersed into another culture.
Photography by: Mathias Buytaert. You can find other examples of his work on his Instagram: @mathiasbtrt, and his website is https://www.mathiasbuytaert.com/.