For an international student, homesickness could be about missing family, friends, food, familiar culture, weather and music. It could be the first time that they are away from home. It can involve learning a new culture, taking responsibility for finances and they may not be used to looking after themselves on a day to day basis.
You might be able to offer assistance in a number of areas that could be totally new for someone, for example:
- shopping (best options, cheap options, culturally appropriate options [e.g. vegetarian food, halal food, etc])
- travelling and getting around (where to buy bus tickets and get timetables)
- getting setup with household goods, cooking equipment, irons, washing machines etc (where to source these goods, second hand options etc)
- knowing where to go to buy food (find out their food preferences and recommend where they might go to get those ingredients)
- budgeting to cover all the weekly costs (you might ask them if they need to know the rough costs of items so that they can budget, like how much an electricity bill might be)
- knowing how the health system works (how to find a local doctor, how much it can cost with and without insurance, where to get your medication etc).
It is quite likely that your tertiary institution has services and advisors for international students which your friend can visit to get information on many aspects of living and studying in a new place. You can help them locate this service (the physical location or materials on the service’s website).
Establishing new friends can be quite daunting when you arrive in a place for the first time without any connections or experience of the culture. Often it will be much easier for them to establish friendships with people from their own cultures because they find it more difficult to meet locals who already have their own friendship networks.
- Sometimes it might be a good idea, when you are doing social things, or shopping or any activity on the weekend, to think about what a new student friend is doing especially if they are new to the city. Perhaps you can include them in your activity?
- You might also be able to introduce them to other friends or friendship groups so they can build their own social networks.