Christine Nhamo Correspondent
The fascination of studying abroad dazzles the mind of almost every student soon after completing high school.
The fancy lifestyle, different weather experience, and a different atmosphere, is all everyone wants but sadly, it comes at a price.
Firstly, depression is a complex condition that can strike for a number of reasons, and can differ in severity depending on many factors that are sometimes out of our control.
It is also a mood disorder that can affect a person’s daily life. It may be described as feelings of sadness, loss, or anger and anxiety as one’s body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come.
Talking from experience after having been studying in Russia for more than four years now, I should say depression and anxiety hit more differently, and deeper when you’re far away from home and close family especially now, when Covid 19 has resulted in a lockdown.
Most people are more concerned about the glittering appearance and the prestige of studying abroad, and no one really takes time to check on the mental health of the children we send to study abroad all by themselves.
Depression frequently accompanies the unexpected or underestimated challenges of diving head first into a new language or culture. The cultural shock and the daily struggle of trying to fit in has left many desperate to feel normal and adjust.
Through survey, I have observed that most students who study abroad, especially the ones on scholarships go home only once when they have finally completed their degrees or diplomas. They get stuck in a foreign land for more than four years, facing the harsh world with no one to lean on or a guardian to complain to.
The pressure from studies and the desire to please people left back home can leave them in really unexplainable depressive states. Most students who study in countries like Russia, Ukraine, China, Italy, etc.; study in the local language, and now you can imagine how difficult it gets.
Truth be said, studying abroad and living alone can make anyone mentally unstable. Due to these factors, most students resort to drug abuse as a solution. A higher percentage of students studying abroad drinks alcohol and smokes which now leads to extreme consequences. Depression is real- and it’s time people take it seriously. It can easily lead to suicides too.
Most students gain weight due to stress and over-eating. Some actually lose appetite. We need to pay more attention and realise that it’s dipper than the different atmosphere.
We need to pay more attention to children studying away from home, especially during this lockdown due to Covid-19.
Being stuck inside the same familiar four walls of a small dormitory room is unpleasant, and it eventually makes you feel insane.
The lockdown abroad is taken seriously, and some students’ hostels are locked from outside to make sure no one goes out. Mental health issues are increasing, and we are now in fear of mental disorders as well.
Depression has no age: it attacks anybody regardless of gender or status. Upon realising so many problems that students are facing in foreign lands, I took it upon myself and decided to start a Talk Show: “The Untapped Voices”, here in Russia.
It is a platform whereby we collectively discuss issues that affect our daily lives, and in Africa at large, communally bringing solutions to the table.
There is need for parents, friends and relatives with children studying abroad to occasionally check on them, for us to lessen suicide occurrences and other extreme outcomes of depression.
- Christine Nhamo is a Zimbabwean studying International Law at Nizhny Novgorod State University in Russia. She has published six motivational, and is the brains behind a magazine: Zim Influencers Magazine.