Friday 20 December 2019

Overcoming Isolation in the Foreign Lands

Yusuf shares his experience regarding the problems faced when he started living alone as an international student in Canada and how he overcame them.
- Yusuf Matin

Isolation is one of the problems that international students face when they travel to foreign lands to study. So, what is isolation? Isolation is setting oneself apart from other people. This is a common phenomenon and is usually faced by freshers as they step in to new foreign lands for the very first time of their lives. I myself have gone through this experience. The excitement of living alone in a foreign land did not even last for an entire month. I began to miss my family gradually. Back in my country, I used to be pampered and never appreciated the care of my friends and family members. They were always there for me whenever I needed them most. Even when I was ill, I was looked after by everyone around me. Due to time differences I was not able to contact them. I had never felt lonely in my life and never knew that isolation could be a serious problem. A problem that lead to different kind of problems. I often laughed and mocked people when they said that they felt lonely and isolated. 

After arriving, I had a lot of things to do and I did not even have proper guidance. I had to wait for my classes to begin so that I could ask for proper help and support. Living in my own country, I knew all the names of the streets and locations but living here in the foreign land came with its own challenges, especially when it came to traveling to different places. As the days went by, other kinds of problems started to arise. One being emotional isolation. I was connected to everyone via social media, yet I felt very lonely and isolated. I was running out of cash and did not have a job. I had to wake up early in the morning to attend my classes and returned home in the evening with an empty stomach and tired legs. I did not know how to cook and so I consumed snacks most of the time. Sometimes I felt so tired I did not even have food and just went to sleep. 

This caused the biggest problem. Due to this habit I developed a peptic ulcer. At night when I slept, I screamed in pain. This scream was from my inner voice and it remained unheard all the time as I was so isolated. I tried to reach out for help but unfortunately there was no one. I always had difficulty expressing my remoteness to people because it felt worthless discussing something these to people. This feeling arose because whenever I tried to talk to them, my words became unheard. My mental and physical health was deteriorating.

From what was happening around me, I had to bounce back and had to stand tall on my own two feet. This was not at all an easy task. After doing classes, I would talk to my classmates and bond with them. Gradually, my friendships grew and I started feeling less lonely. I finally met people from my country and started bonding with them. I gained more knowledge from my countrymen who came before me and started acknowledging their experiences. During my weekends, I took cooking lessons from them and shared food for dinner. I learnt that strengthening my resilience was the only way to move forward. The damage had been done, but for me time was the best healer. Even though it took a lot of time to recover, but I was glad that I went through and came out victorious. I had to setup my everyday schedule and made hourly and weekly plans. Traveling to different places with friends actually helped as it gave me the peace of mind that I needed the most.

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I am an International student who living a life that was beyond thinkable, which is living alone. There are many students who are young and dependent on their family and friends. This is for them. No damage is permanent, and we can all recover if we really try hard enough. I don't want anyone else to face these problems.

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