Feeling at home in Leeds

Life in a new social, cultural and academic environment is exciting but can feel challenging. Whether you've recently arrived in Leeds or you've been here for some time, there's lots of support to help you feel at home.

Feeling at Home in Leeds online guides and group workshops help you settle in, adapt to changes and make the most of all the opportunities for learning and personal growth.

Feeling at Home in Leeds online guides

In the Feeling at Home in Leeds online guides you’ll hear from students and postgraduate researchers who’ve shared their stories of making the transition to living and studying in Leeds. You’ll hear about what they found different and exciting, what helped them meet challenges, and what they’ve learned from their experiences. You can also use the interactive activities to help you apply the ideas and strategies to your own situation. 

You can self-enrol in the Feeling at Home in Leeds Minerva organisation to explore these different sections of the guide in any order:

  • Navigating change and cultural differences
  • Making friends and finding balance
  • Getting the right help and support
  • Getting the most from University life
  • Navigating the Leeds academic environment. 

How to access your online guide

Taught students

To access your guide, you’ll need to self-enrol in the Feeling at Home in Leeds organisation on Minerva, using your University of Leeds email address and password.

  1. Log into Minerva via the links below, which will take you to the Feeling At Home in Leeds page for your study level:
  2. Follow the brief self-enrolment instructions provided on that page.
  3. After you have self-enrolled, your Feeling at Home in Leeds guide will be listed under 'Organisations', which you can view by clicking on the 'Learn' tab in Minerva.

Postgraduate researchers

You’ll find your Feeling at Home in Leeds online guide in the Leeds Doctoral College organisation on Minerva.

Who can use the online guides?

The online guides will be particularly useful if you are studying in the UK for the first time, but all students and postgraduate researchers are welcome to explore the guides. We hope that everyone will find something useful in the videos, activities and resources. 

There are different versions of the guide for each of the three different study levels (undergraduate, taught postgraduate and research postgraduate).

Feeling at Home in Leeds group workshops

Free courses of Feeling at Home in Leeds group workshops run at different times of the year. The course provides an opportunity to share your experiences of culture change with fellow students and postgraduate researchers. You’ll also help each other develop strategies for making the most of your intercultural experience at Leeds, including improving and developing skills in these areas:

  • Participating in academic groups
  • Making social conversation
  • Seeking help
  • Expressing disagreement and saying no.

The course was a breath of fresh air for me. This activity helped me to enjoy more my time here in Leeds... [and] helped me to find the balance between my personal and student life. The course gave me tools to 'survive' in a global environment, not only to understand the British culture but also to understand other cultures. (Previous workshop participant).

The Feeling at Home in Leeds course has been developed by the International Student Office in collaboration with Student Counselling and Wellbeing.

Who can attend the group workshops?

The workshops are for international (including EU) students and postgraduate researchers.

How to sign up

If you would like to be contacted about future workshops when they become available, please register your interest using our online form.

If you have any questions about our online guides or workshops, please contact us at globalcommunity@leeds.ac.uk.

Making friends

After the excitement of arriving in Leeds and the whirlwind of the start of term, you'll begin to find a routine. Making friends can help combat feeling lost and homesick. It's important to remember that everyone is in the same position as you. There are lots of opportunities to get to know new people.

Freshers week

Freshers week is an excellent place to meet new people and sign up for clubs and societies to meet like minded folk.

Halls of residence. A great place to make new friends. Open your door, get the kettle on and make the drinks! Your hall probably has a Facebook page, which is where you can find out about things that are happening, and even get to know your neighbours before you arrive.

Academic societies. You'll see most of the people on your course in lectures and seminars, but your faculty or school will have a society that will organise trips and evenings.

Living at home. It can sometimes feel as if you're missing out if you're living in at home. This certainly doesn't have to be the case. You can maximise your time on campus by getting involved with the Union's clubs and societies, or by joining any faculty or school societies. 

Sport. If you're interested in sport, then why not join a club or society, or visit The Edge, the University sports centre.

Feeling homesick

Feeling homesick affects two out of three University students at some point. It's a perfectly normal part of the experience of leaving home.

It can be hard moving away from your family and friends and making decisions that you might not have had to make before. For most people, feeling homesick is a temporary feeling, and after a short time many settle down and enjoy their time away from home. However it can be a difficult time, and it's important to know steps you can take to help, and where to go for support.

Symptoms

  • Feeling lost, lonely or unhappy.
  • Missing home.
  • Regularly thinking about the past.
  • Not wanting to get out of bed, or leave your room.
  • Feeling overwhelmed with everything.
  • Constantly feeling unwell.

Steps to help 

  • Talk to your friends about how you feel. You won't be alone in how you're feeling.
  • Put up photos, plants and posters to make your room feel comfortable and welcoming.
  • Try and create a work/life balance. It's important to study, but a night out with new friends, arranging a trip into town or just watching a film can be something to look forward to.
  • Don't give up. It's normal to feel like leaving at first, but the feelings normally pass within a few weeks.
  • Keep busy. Planning your days and establishing a routine that works for you won't leave you much time to feel homesick.
  • Join clubs and societies. They're a great way of meeting new people with the same interest as you.
  • Explore the Feeling at Home in Leeds online guides to hear about students' experiences and advice about settling in, making friends, and making the most of all aspects of University life.
  • Volunteer to help with something you are interested in. Leeds University Union has lots of events and things happening throughout term, and it's a great way to meet new people.

Where to get support

Everyone arriving at University is in a new environment. You may find others on your course or where you live are feeling a similar way to you. If you have friends to talk to, you might find they understand and share your worries. 

Speak to your tutor, or other people in your school. They are very understanding about what it's like to be away from home, and can help. 

The Student Advice, part of Leeds University Union can offer confidential chat, online and in person.

Culture shock

Living in a new country can be very exciting, but you may find the changes can feel difficult and stressful for a while.

Things like the climate, food and behaviour in social and academic situations may all be different to what you're used to, and some of the people around you may have different values and viewpoints.

What can you do?

There are many different things that you can do to help feel more at home and confident in your new surroundings. Whether it's meeting other people who are away from home, getting involved in Global Community activities, being part of clubs or societies or just understanding things to do to help you feel more at home, then the University can help.

International Student Office 

The International Student Office can offer you support and guidance about settling in and living in the UK. You can speak to the team at the enquiry desk who will be able to offer suggestions and help you feel at home.

Student Counselling Centre

The Student Counselling Centre provides help if you're experiencing emotional or psychological difficulties. Coming for counselling is not a sign of weakness, but a positive move towards addressing your problems. Counsellors won't be able to provide instant solutions, but will listen to you, help you increase your self-awareness and find ways to work through the issues you're facing.

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