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Starting Strong

Guidance for Global Families
By Natasha Winnard
Starting Strong

In my last article, Getting Prepared: Developing Skills for Student Wellbeing Before Going to University, we looked at upskilling in the final year of school. This article will focus on starting strong in those first few days and weeks at university. 


I’m not joking! Investing money in the most comfortable bedding possible for quality sleep is money well spent! Quality sleep is so important for wellbeing. Student accommodation is rarely luxurious, so take the plunge and make a nest for your child. Trust me, they’ll thank you for it.

Exercise Access

Offer to pay for a gym membership or equivalent, especially for the first 12 months. Exercise is a critical wellbeing strategy, as well as a great way of making new friends.


Try to have face-to-face contact with your child at least once a week. Zoom is your best friend! We can tell a lot about how our child is coping when we can see them, not just when they message. Messaging is good, but regular Zoom calls make so much sense.

Old and New Friends

Kids today are global communicators but sometimes need encouragement to make new friendships while keeping old ones. It is worth reminding them how long it took at school to establish lasting friendships. Your child may need reminding to be patient and accept that while they will make many new connections in the first days and weeks, it may take a while to establish lasting friendships. 

Remember Your Own Support Needs

Don’t forget to rely on your own international friends who may be going through the same experience. Talking with friends about your experiences may indirectly increase your child’s wellbeing because they are less likely to worry about how you are coping knowing that you have friends to talk with too.

Double-Check Support

Universities are usually pretty good at making sure that students are given plenty of support in their first semester. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't double-check that your child has registered with a doctor and that they at least know where they can find the university’s support services. 

The first few weeks at university can be wonderful, but they can also be tough. There may be the added stress of the cycle of culture shock to deal with. Good routines, good habits, and a good support network will get your child where they need to be.

The next article will focus on student wellbeing tips after the initial settling-in period has passed.



Natasha Winnard has come across many amazing young people in more than 20 years as an international educator, guidance and college counselor, and mentor in schools in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. She is a facilitator for the Counselor Training Center, currently teaching the course Mental Health and Wellbeing in International Schools. Natasha Winnard Consultancy provides holistic, personalized guidance for young people and their families looking for support in the world of international education. 


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