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Student Health Service with an international focus

1 February 2021

Anna Westergren and Frida O'Kelly, counsellors at the Student Health Service. Photo: David Naylor.

Many, especially new students arriving from abroad, are unaware of the support they can obtain free of charge from the Student Health Service in addition to the services offered by the healthcare sector. It may therefore be even more important than normal given the times we live in to take advantage of any opportunity to reach out to new students.

The Student Health Service took part in the international student reception, held digitally on 20 January. The meeting provided information on Student Health Service seminars, lectures, counselling and other advice and there were also two webinars: Sustainable Studies during the Pandemic and Cultural Adjustment and Surviving Winter Blues. The second of these included a small panel discussion with two international students who have lived and studied in Uppsala for a few years.

“During both webinars, but particularly in Cultural Adjustment and Surviving Winter Blues, new students had a chance to ask questions and offer feedback to the student panel. We find that the opportunity to ask questions of experienced international students is always much appreciated,” say Frida O’Kelly and Anna Westergren, counsellors at the Student Health Centre, which is part of the Student Affairs and Academic Registry Division.

Strange times

For all of us, the pandemic has changed most things in almost every way and reaching students in general with information can be a greater challenge than usual. Making students feel welcome is a major part of orientation, even if this year it will be achieved remotely and digitally.

“Of course, it’s not the same thing as meeting them in person but, at the same time, we are delighted to reach students at all in these times. For us, orientation is a very special occasion when we have the chance to meet and welcome new students.”

The greatest difference compared to a ‘normal’ orientation on campus is the lack of personal contact, seeing all of those expectant students filling the hall and having that feeling of a fresh start and endless possibilities. Given all of the current restrictions, it is perhaps even more important to encourage students to take advantage of the social contexts that are available.

“Student life and the activities of our student nations are a major part of what Uppsala has to offer to international students and we encourage everyone to be as socially active as possible without risking infection. Otherwise, it’s easy to feel lonely and isolated.”

No problem too small

For the Student Health Service, however, the most important information to reach new international students with is the fundamental awareness that support is available, that the Student Health Service is there for them. That said, it is also important that new students feel comfortable getting in touch with the Student Health Service.

“We always encourage them to seek help in good time, rather than wait. No problem is too small to contact us about!”

Read more about The Student Health Service.

Last modified: 2021-02-18