Loneliness is an epidemic for modern people. From the perspective of society, modern people live in smaller nuclear families or live alone, with the traditional large families falling into parts. The pandemic and isolation of people escalated the situation in recent years. There could be a higher chance of you feeling lonely if you study far away from your family or overseas. The 2022 Fall NYU First-year Survey reports that 36% percent of Non-US International Students and 24% of students from the USfeel lonely, either always or often, compared to 5.66% of Chinese students who feel lonely. I conducted an interview with one US student and one non-US international student in NYU Shanghai to let them share their experiences with loneliness in our school, as well as how to deal with it.

The two students are Nomin Bayasgalan and Chelsea Tu from Class 2026, respectively from Mongolia and the US. When speaking of how often they will feel lonely at our school, Nomin and Chelsea both gave an answer of 1-2 weeks. Nomin mentioned that she felt more lonely during the winter break because her friends had gone home, but she had to stay at school and be away from her family. Chelsea doesn’t consider the winter break to be a time that she is more lonely than normal, but she agrees that during winter break, those who stay at the dorm will be more bored due to having nothing else to occupy their mind. Thus, she can’t help missing her family. When it comes to the most common trigger of loneliness, Nomin implied, “I missed my family more than missing my friends. I really miss my mother’s meal.” For Chelsea, “When I don’t have anything else to think about, loneliness will come into my mind.”

As for the loneliest experience they had at NYU Shanghai, Nomin considered the hardest being  the first month of her freshman year. She mentioned that this was her first experience going abroad, and she wasn’t used to life in Shanghai at the beginning. With the help of her friends and roommates, she feels much better this semester. Chelsea holds the opinion that over time, loneliness is still a relatively similar feeling for her, and she doesn’t have the time to feel lonely when she’s occupied with school work. For the solution to loneliness, Nomin expresses that she does not want to show her loneliness to family members, so she calls for her friends and drinks milk tea together. Watching Korean dramas on Netflix is also her secret weapon. Chelsea suggests sports or more simply, “find something to take off my mind.”

When talking about their expectation of our school to reduce the negative effect of loneliness on international students, Nomin suggests more school-organized activities. She thinks highly of the Sing-off Contest and hopes for more similar activities. “A sports meeting with all the students participating will be ideal. That will make students more engaged with one another.” Chelsea, as a worker for the student department, gives a very rational answer: “Our school is already organizing activities and events that promote togetherness. But it’s always up to the individual’s choices to decide whether they join these events or to stay alone.”

In conclusion, homesickness is the main cause of loneliness in international students. Not getting used to life at NYU Shanghai can be troublesome for freshmen, but can be resolved with the help of friends and roommates. When students don’t have much to do, they will feel more lonely. From the perspective of individuals, Finding things to relax yourself or simply being busy can be helpful. From the perspective of schools, more efforts should be made to make the international students more engaged with our local community. Events and activities are good, but workshops and treatments more catered to personal feelings should also be considered.