The Bartlett


Adapting to a new environment

by Anita Wesonga

Studying in London at The Bartlett was a dream come true. I found myself in London, pursuing my dream career path, with new friends and company but something still felt amiss. I found myself struggling mentally, especially with Covid and isolation. 

It can seem hard to adapt to a new environment and culture, especially as an international student, despite getting into your new programme and making new friends. Being away from family can cause homesickness but it is important to take care of your mental health.  

In this blog, I will share a few tips that helped me navigate the pressures of studying in a new environment away from home.  

Explore your new environment 

The beautiful thing about London is that there are plenty of things and places to explore. Simply just walking to a park close to my home brightened my mood during the gloomy winter days.

Going out with friends and exploring museums, open-air markets and restaurants in London always gives me the needed break and appreciation for my new home. Visiting museums and historic buildings also offers the creative insight needed for design work. 

Student taking picture with her camera phone in a museum

Keep in touch 

Staying in touch with your friends and family from home can really help in your transition. They tend to give a listening ear and help you feel connected to home despite the long distance. In my case, it also gives me a chance to speak in my native language and have a good laugh! My family and friends are always curious to know how I am fairing and it is calming to share my new experiences in London with them without judgement. I find that they easily relate to what I am experiencing since they understand where I come from.

Plan your days

With hybrid learning, you might find yourself working from home, sometimes even for consecutive weeks. I find it helpful to plan my day and even getting a few things checked off my to-do list is a morale booster. I usually have sticky notes with my list of things to do and taking them down once I achieve my goals is quite satisfying. 

Working in the design studios, UCL student centres, or the library might also break the monotony of working from confined spaces at home. 

Share your culture 

You most likely will find yourself making friends from different cultures and countries. I find that talking about our homes and cultures is quite enlightening. My friends and I even go the extra mile and have cultural exchange dinners. It sounds like a small thing but in a way, it makes me miss home less because I feel like I have brought part of my culture with me and I get to share it with other people. 

Students at a shared cultural dinner

Get Help 

At times it might feel like you have too much to handle despite all of your best efforts. UCL Cares provides a variety of helpful resources amongst them access to counselling services. They give guidance on a variety of issues relating to mental health and your studies. 

The student support and wellbeing team is also a great support for students and there is also an excellent transition mentor programme that supports all first year students as they settle in to life at UCL.

About the author

Anita Wesonga is an International Student from Nairobi, Kenya studying on the Architectural Design MArch programme at The Bartlett School of Architecture. She is passionate about social architecture, and enjoys exploring new places as well as spending time with family and friends. 

Profile of Anita Wesonga