Sometimes having a place to go and just ‘be’ makes the most difference
I have been a student at Kent for nearly six years, working on my postgraduate degrees. Over the years, one group has helped provide me extra support and helped me establish connections: The International Wellbeing Group. It has helped foster a more positive experience and become an integral part of my support network. The weekly meetings have allowed me to shut off my mind and exist simply as myself for a while. Sometimes that is all any of us need in life, to simply exist, to have a place to go when the weeks are long and the miles between here and home seem infinite.
Transitioning to a new life in a new country is challenging to say the least, and there have been times when I have felt overwhelmed. Between moving thousands of miles to a new place, navigating a different culture, homesickness, studying, and making new friends, becoming overwhelmed happens quickly. Some days, I feel like a fish out of water and have no clue how to navigate the systems or the culture here. However, I am thankful on those days that I can turn to the International Wellbeing Group as a place to feel more secure.
The group is designed by students and overseen by the international mentor from Student Support and Wellbeing, who ensures that each of us knows a group is a place where we are safe. The hour and a half we have each Thursday are ours to ask advice, take a timeout, explore questions about culture shock, play games, and understand that there isn’t much that separates us from each other.
The group came in especially helpful to me when I unexpectedly lost my mother in 2018. It was right before the start of term when it happened; I was alone when I got the news and could only return home for two weeks before returning to Kent for the start of term. I leaned on the group meetings a lot to get me through the times when I felt like no one understood what I was going through. Everyone in the group could understand what it was like to live far away from family and the anxiety when things were out of their control. The group got me through one of the most challenging years of my life by being what it is, a safe space for students to go when they need a break from the outside world. I didn’t have to be the PhD student during the group. I could be the grieving daughter, still coming to terms with what life would be like now.
Groups like the International Wellbeing Group exist so students like me who move across the world can breathe a little easier from day to day. It has been one of the most memorable aspects of my time here at Kent, and one part that I hope continues after I have left. Everyone in this world needs to know that they aren’t alone and that there are groups such as this one that is there, whenever it is required, to step in and provide that support.
Written by Kyla Greenhorn, Post-Graduate student, 08.11.21
A note from Student Support and Wellbeing:
Would you like to join the International Wellbeing Group, or see what other relevant support is available for you? Take a look at the Student Support and Wellbeing Events Calendar for what’s coming up. If you’ve been affected by the death of a friend or family member, you may also wish to book on to our forthcoming bereavement workshop.
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