When looking at familiar faces on the screen and hearing a familiar voice away from hundreds miles, do you feel less homesick?
Homesickness can affect most students when they are a long way from everyone they know best. Three international students tell us how they use social media to keep in touch with friends and family, and keep the loneliness at bay.
Dandan Lin from China has been studying at Cardiff University for six months. She usually contacts her parents two days of a time after class through Wechat, a Chinese messaging app which is similar to Facebook.
Dandan talks about recent happenings both on her studies and daily life with her parents.
“I feel homesick especially when the academic workload and extra-curricular activities take their toll, and at times I can not help wishing I were back home gobbling food made by my mother and pouring out annoyances to my parents.”
Normally, when several deadlines are looming, she just buy a sandwich to reluctantly fill the belly and stay up late in the library.
“Sometimes I grumble some academic pressure to my parents when we chat online,” Dandan said, but she as far as possible avoid to tell the difficulties he came through in study and everyday life. In this situation, she said she prefers to playing computer games to ward off unhappiness.
“Because I do not want my parents to worry about me,” Dandan added.
Thanks to the development of social media, almost 5,000 miles seem to be shortened. “I think it (messaging app) makes me feel less homesick because I could meet my parents online by using video call,” Dandan said.
Social media apps appear to be an important tool for international students to contact their family members.
“I usually use ‘Line’ (a messaging app populated in Thailand) to keep in touch with my parents once a week. It is more convenient for me to send pictures and Line call allows free call for me to keep in touch with my family,” Kanyawat Pui Chanwaowarm, a Thailand student in Cardiff Medicine School.
“Normally, I use Skype and Facebook to contact my parents, but not my grandparents because they are very old. I think the strength of using social media is that it is convenient and easy to contact people without worry geographical disparities.” Karouna Majka, a Poland student at Cardiff University.