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Study abroad : Once you arrive

How to get support at university

It can take time to thrive in a new environment, especially when you’re studying abroad for the first time. We help you explore the support available to you at universities.

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Studying abroad is an exciting and transformative experience. You will learn and discover new things regularly, culturally, socially and academically. It takes time to adjust to a new environment and find your place. Sometimes you may encounter a challenge or problem. It’s important to know where to go for help and support. In this guide, we explain how to report a problem, what steps to take, and who to speak to. This includes academic support, mental health support and physical wellbeing. 


How to get academic support

Starting on an academic journey abroad can come with challenges. This is especially true in your first few months at a new university. You’ll experience:

  • A new higher education system
  • Different teaching approaches 
  • Multiple forums for instruction
  • A new grading and assessment system
  • A new curriculum 

This will require adjustment and learning, so it’s quite normal to feel slightly uncertain when you start. However, the most important factor to remember is that you can access academic support at university if you struggle or need help. Some of the best ways to access this support are to speak to your university's international office, student support office, or academic service department. Most universities will have the following in place to assist you:


If there is something that you need clarification on or need help understanding we recommend asking questions and chatting with a fellow student or university staff member. That way you can find the necessary support. You can also conduct research before arriving at your university and develop a list of questions and queries you want answered. 


We can help out with our useful guides to:




How to get mental health support

You may go through a range of emotions when arriving in a new environment. You’ll meet new people, immerse yourself in a different culture, and taking on new academic challenges. This isn’t always easy, and it’s normal to feel stressed and anxious with such a significant life change. You may struggle with:

  • Homesickness 
  • Loneliness 
  • Academic stress 
  • Language barriers 
  • Financial worries
  • Illness 
  • Food
  • Difficulty in adapting to a new culture

If you experience any of the above, it’s important to know that mental health help and support are available. Universities have counselling available as part of their university support services. Further, many countries also have organisations with whom you can speak anonymously to get help and support. 


Some of the steps you can take to safeguard your mental wellbeing and that of others are:

  • Connecting with fellow students, university staff and family back home 
  • Getting involved in activities and societies where you become part of a community
  • Participate in volunteering
  • Attend group sessions and workshops focusing on mental health
  • Stay physically healthy with enough sleep and a good diet
  • Speak to a student buddy or counsellor when you need to
  • Note the services and organisations providing mental health support, including telephone numbers, websites, and email addresses. 

Remember that you should always speak up if you feel that you or someone you know is struggling. It can make all the difference to your experience studying abroad.  Here’s a list of the mental health support services available in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia:

  1. UK

    1. NHS

    2. Mind

    3. Mental Health UK  

    4. Rethink

    5. Samaritans

  2. USA

    1. Safe Help Line 

    2. Mental Health America 

    3. Mental Health.gov 

  3. Canada

    1. Canadian Government 

    2. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health 

    3. Wellness Together Canada

    4. Canadian Mental Health Association 

  4. Australia 

    1. Mental Health Australia 

    2. Your Health in Mind 

    3. Headspace 

    4. Sane 



What other support is there at university?

Most universities are well-equipped to help and assist international students in several ways. This is done to create a safe, supportive, and enabling environment. This support can be critical to ensuring a positive experience for you. Some of the key support services you can access are: 


Some services you can access without needing to sign up, but sometimes you will be asked to register and make an appointment. Always check beforehand and speak to the relevant service or department. 


As you can see, being a new international student doesn’t mean working everything out on your own. Universities have structures and services in place to help you get settled. Always check your prospective university’s website to see what they offer. You can also get more information from a university prospectus and use this to compare universities


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