From keeping a seat at the table for virtual family dinners, to staying up to date on the lives of friends, research by HSBC shows the majority of students studying away from home are using technology like video calls, Instagram, WeChat and WhatsApp to connect with friends and family – but this doesn’t stop them missing home.
According to John Goddard, Head of retail banking and wealth management for HSBC Channel Islands and Isle of Man, the findings of the research should resonate with islanders, with around 2,000 students across the Channel Islands being in higher education off-island in 2017/18, according to figures from the Jersey and Guernsey governments*.
The HSBC research, entitled ‘Sounds of Home’, found that, globally, 92% of students say that they miss the familiarities of home while studying overseas, with almost six in 10 (57%) saying it’s the sensory experience they miss most, and three quarters (74%) specifically missing the sounds of home, such as the hustle and bustle of local markets (26%) and birds, insects or native animals (20%) as sounds they are most likely to miss.
While moving away from home to study is an exciting adventure for students which they say has a positive, lasting impact (99%), it can take some adjusting to. 43% students feel homesick at least once a week or more, nearly half (49%) believe missing family and friends has impacted their academic performance, and for two in five (40%), being away from home has affected their ability to get a good night’s sleep.
John Goddard, Head of retail banking and wealth management, HSBC Channel Island and Isle of Man, said:
“These are global figures, but they clearly apply to the large number of Jersey students who study off-island. There are many benefits to studying away from home – new adventures, new skills and independence – but that doesn’t stop you missing the familiarity of home. In Jersey especially, it is hard not to miss the homely sounds of waves crashing on the beaches, Jersey cows mooing away and buskers playing their music in St. Helier. Whilst HSBC provides financial guidance and support for island students who are away from home, ‘Sounds of Home’ helps us understand their experience better.”
Baroness Susan Greenfield, former fellow at The University of Oxford and CEO of Neuro-Bio Ltd said:
“International students were born into a connected, digital era, but the majority still miss their familiar lifestyles in the real world. Whilst it’s reassuring that this young generation is not living in a cyber parallel universe, the challenge is how to off-set the absence of family, friends, location, and language, in tangible new ways. Sounds and smells are – more than the other three senses – the most pervasive and the least contextual. Perhaps sounds are so important in homesickness because they are hard to encapsulate in a specific, single memory, and play a bigger role in our on-going consciousness. Sound also allows room for imagination, conjuring up in your mind a personal scenario. This means sound can be used to good effect to induce a sense of personal well-being.”