DD on year abroad and struggling(16 Posts)
Just had the most awful Skype to my DD who is in Berlin as part of her year abroad. She's been complaining of feeling homesick the last few days. Her 2nd year at Uni has been awful as she has had a fairly serious bout of depression for which she's now been on medication for a year. She's been in Berlin since early September and seemed to have turned a corner and was making progress and there were signs of the old DD. Tonight though she Skype d me and frankly looked shocking - she looked exhausted and like she'd not combed her hair today. Her boyfriend is out in Germany too and she's stayed there since the weekend and hasn't been to lectures at her Uni there the last two days. I think she just wanted me to say come home but I am due to go out to see her in 2 weeks for 4 days and then it's only a week until she comes home for Christmas. She had been told she could be exempt from her year abroad due to her health issues but she wanted to go as she said she would feel like she'd cheated her way to her degree. So, now I don't know whether to try and get her to limp through until Christmas and then we can reassess whether she should go back or not. When her depression was bad before she would worry me silly one day and then be different again the next day but this is so much more scary with her being so far away. Has anyone had a similar experience that can offer any practical suggestions as to how to get through this one. TIA
Can you talk to her again today and ask her if she wants to come home early? Make it clear that it doesn't matter that you have already booked flights etc. She might be struggling on because of this whereas if she was in the U.K. it would be easier to pop home? Or talk to her boyfriend to see how he thinks she really is? If you think it's unlikely she will be able to go back after Christmas anyway, there's not much to gain in staying till the end of term if she is not really coping.
I am ringing her later to see if she's any better today so will have to re assess then. I've lost so much sleep in the last 12 months worrying about her to call her the next day to find out she's feeling better so am really hoping and praying that will be the case this time - I just have this feeling it won't be !
2nd year uni is notorious for depression and having a crisis of confidence (or it was when I was at uni). Could she come home early and try again in January? How much would she miss?
I think it's really tricky. If she stays and it gets worse, you'll regret not encouraging her to come home. On the other hand she could stay and get a real sense of achievement for powering through.
On the other hand, she might stay and it might have a negative impact on her.
Can you go out any earlier to her? And stay until your return flight that's already booked?
I would ask her if it is ok to get in touch with the overseas office at the university (you need her permission to talk about her to them) and flag this up as a pastoral issue and ask for their help. It won't be the first time this has happened, I've had students drop out and rejoin the UK course as they hated it/had a flare up of pre-existing mental health or eating disorder. Or get her to call them and flag up that she's struggling.
It happens, and it's not the end of the world, and that's the message to get over to her- as she is obviously a little black and white thinking in saying she would have 'cheated' her way to a degree if she didn't go- there's no cheating involved, you can't cheat your way to a degree and if she did all three years without a year abroad, that would be the same degree as pretty much most people obtain.
Hope you get a resolution to this.
Also, there's no shame in having an episode of depression, going home and seeking treatment. I always encourage students having difficulties to go home (if get on well with parents) and regroup from there. It's much easier to do that than struggle on feeling alone and being vulnerable, especially a long way from home. I'd get her home and then work out what to do next.
Is it possible for you to visit her to support her there for a few days?
Have spoken to her this morning. She sounded a bit brighter although when I asked her how she was feeling she said "nothing " BUT she was on a train on the way back to Uni from her boyfriends (he's 45 mins away on his year abroad too) and was up at a "normal" time although her train had been cancelled so she's not going to make her 10am lecture but at least she's going ! I asked her if she felt she could limp through until I visit (2 weeks today) and she said yes. She did say that sometimes she just wants to come home and other days she thinks that's a bad idea. So, she is obviously not dead set on coming home and my worry will be if she comes home that she then beats herself up about having "failed" - she's very self critical!
So, I really just don't know where we go from here but I did ask her if I could ring her Uni here and she said no because she can't see what they can do. So, without her permission at 21 years old I can't just ring them !
Could you ring her boyfriend or his parents - might be another point of view?
The Uni may be able to do quite a lot, in terms of outlining the options for her if she did decide to call it quits at Christmas. Universities these days are set up to give pastoral care and help students with any type of difficulties, mental health or just homesick. I don't mean they will have all the answers, but they may have some solutions or even just options she can then consider. I would encourage her to contact them herself, it's not true they can't do anything or at least they can tell her what would happen in various scenarios. They also like to know if students are running into difficulties earlier rather than waiting til the shit hits the fan.
I know you can't make her though, she's an adult and that means all support has to be from the sidelines. It wouldn't hurt though to ask her to contact her themselves.
I know on my DDs language degree that missing year 3 abroad would be a fail. You cannot get the degree without it. 3 years is not the same and would not result in the degree being awarded because an element is missing. The year abroad is an undertaking that must be competed and signed off (lectures attended, exams taken etc) and work completed for the uk university. If it is not a language degree, there might be flexibility so check it out.
If she needs to defer, try and defer. Do year abroad next year? No boyfriend next year though. I do understand your worry. Maybe change course? Maybe this type of course is just not suitable for her.
She could still graduate as she had exemption on medical grounds but chose to go. This had already been discussed but have spoken to her again this afternoon and she's had a positive day. She asked a friend from her home Uni to go for a coffee after her lecture and they were joined by some other Erasmus students and she said they had a good giggle. I suggested that she perhaps needed to be more pro active in suggesting meet ups instead of waiting to be asked.
I would take her lead TBH.
I have been that young adult struggling with depression etc... I was also very far from home (my parents were overseas at the time so even worse than you dd situation as in I couldn't go back home at Christmas for example).
The best thing my mum did was to listen to me and not make any judgement or comment. She didn't even say 'oh that looks hard. You sound depressed or whatever'.
She let me make my own choices.
She also was extremely careful not to show ANY of her anxieties, even though she actually panned to book a flight to see me several times (coming from the other side of the world!).
I managed. It was hard but feeling that, regardless of what I was doing, my mum would support me and not judge me was the one most important thing she did.
This was my DD last year. She was the only english student at her Japanese uni and felt totally isolated. The other girls in her dorm were all either Thai or hispanic americans, she struggled with the different teaching style, the sheer volume of work compared to what she was used to and she had no one she could turn to if she didn't understand something.
I said she could come home at any time but she knew she needed to complete the year otherwise she'd have wasted her first two years. It was so hard for both of us and many phone calls ended in tears so I understand how you must be feeling.
She came home for 6 weeks between semesters and it was obvious she didn't want to go back and I'd have supported her whatever decision she made. I arranged to visit her 2 months later to give her something to look forward to but when she got back a group of american and australian students joined her course and she had a ball. She also found out that she'd been placed in a higher group to stretch her at the request of her UK tutor. I think if she'd known that from the outset things might've been a bit easier for her.
I've been to Japan several times but she was living in the suburbs and I struggled when she was in lectures so I've nothing but admiration for her sticking it out because I don't think I'd have lasted a month.
OP, can I ask if your dd has recently started taking the birth control pill? At her age i studied abroad a term and living away for the first time combined with being on a pill that didn't work for me made me very acutely depressed. Just a thought, in which case she might want to look at her birth control options. i ditched the pill and felt better with a few weeks.
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