Your university days are pivotal in shaping how you will eventually be as an adult. You’ll often find yourself faced with different obstacles and undergoing different phases, and if you’re an international student studying and living in a foreign country, chances are the adjustment period never comes that easy. Understanding these all too well, the KDU International Students Society (KISS) of KDU University College constantly organise initiatives and events to ensure that international students at KDU are provided with the support needed to lessen the ‘cultural shock’ and adapt living in a new country.
One of the initiatives include a workshop on how to handle homesickness. Research shows that up to 70% of students will experience homesickness in their early days at university. It is part and parcel of leaving home. However, even mild homesickness deserves careful attention. It is a reminder of our need to respect our physical and emotional needs at a time of stress. Yet for some people, the results of homesickness are quite disabling, and need additional support from parents, friends or professionals.
The workshop on Homesickness served as a platform to help students identify the physical and emotional symptoms of homesickness and ways of coping with it.
The workshop started off with an ice breaking session where they had to list down positive things about themselves and share it with the rest of the members. It was definitely a good ice breaking session as they feel more relaxed around the rest of the group members. The session then continued with the discussion on the physical and emotional symptoms of homesickness which is loss of concentration, crying and sadness, difficulties in sleeping and eating and also having the typical thought patterns such as ‘I miss my friends back home, I want to be with my family, people here don’t like me and etc.
There is a wide range of reactions to being away from home, particularly for the first time. While these may pass quickly, students need to always seek for help from friends, family and also the University Counselling Service. The workshop served as a first step for these students to better understand how they can cope with homesickness.
Not only that, the KISS also organised the We Will Survive event, a tour around Klang Valley, for the international students to familiarise themselves with Malaysia. The tour introduced these students to the wonders of our local food, culture and other aspects such as navigating our local transportation system.
In order to expose them to the colourful cultures of Malaysia, students toured Brickfields to explore the local food and scene, followed by the Central Market and Petaling Street, where the Chinese culture is rich and vibrant. Students were then taken to Dataran Merdeka before being ushered to KL City Centre, the one stop centre to truly experience the iconic Malaysian city scene.
All of these provided the students with an understanding of the Malaysian culture and heritage, and taught them how to navigate through the concrete jungle of Kuala Lumpur.
It is also important for international students to assimilate themselves in the multicultural society of Malaysia, and as such, another effort from the KISS was a workshop on Diversity and Inclusion. This student-led workshop was initiated after they attended a Diversity and Inclusion camp at UTM, Johor. The students were determined to share the knowledge and experienced they have learned in the camp with their friends and coursemates at KDU, and facilitated the discussion in this workshop by giving unconditional acceptance and encouragement to the participants.
In this workshop, a local movie ‘Gadoh’ was also screened. The movie depicted the differences between races among Malaysian and the sensitive issues revolved around in the country.
The objective of discussing sensitive issues among the youth is to bring everyone together to look into stereotypes and assumptions from an objective perspective. Participants were given opportunities to voice out their own difficulties and experience in dealing with the differences between people. The sharing session was precious and memorable for the members in group to learn more about each other in a caring atmosphere. It is a fact that though the world is made out of special and unique individuals, through inclusion we are able to value the beauty of differences.
These initiatives organised by KISS were only part of a larger support system to how students at KDU can make the most out of their university lives. Through participation at these events, students will find that their university lives can be more enriching and lifelong friendships and bonds can be made.
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