Dealing with University when you have a situation at Home


When my mom was diagnosed with cancer last year my world seemed to come crashing down. I had no idea how I would be able to continue university on the other side of the world as my mom was undergoing treatment. When the rest of the family would have to take on extra responsibilities to care for her, here I sat with the same to-do list filled with seemingly meaningless homework assignments. 

I know that I am not alone in this feeling. Many people have situations going on at home that make even the thought of uni unbearable at times. It feels unfair that the people you love are going through something that you can’t help them with. 

How do you continue on with university while you have things going on back home? The short answer is that I don’t know. What I do know is that if I could go back in time I would want someone to give me advice on how to get through this time, especially on the bad days. I know that there are many students at our university with situations back home, many of them much bigger than my own, a war, the aftermath of an earthquake, and many more. Please know that you are not alone. 

To be able to aid these students, through talks with the IE Wellbeing Center we have curated a list of three things that may help. The reason I say may is because unfortunately there is not a one size fits all solution in these situations. What may help you on one day but not the next. That is ok. These are just a few things that might help you get through today or even this very hour. 

Confide in someone that can support you. 

Telling someone about your situation can often be the hardest part of all this, but telling even one person can mean that when you are having a bad day you can turn to at atleast this one person and they can be there to listen to you or hug you or just sit next to you. You don’t have to tell the whole world, just one friend, classmate, colleague, professor or advisor. If there is no one that you feel will be able to provide you with the support you need, there is always the university’s team of counsellors to turn to. Sometimes it’s good to be able to talk to someone outside of your regular bubble that can listen to you and provide you with actual advice and support. In order to get in contact with IE universities counselling them email them here:

Take care of yourself. 

As counterintuitive as it may seem, we need to take care of ourselves to be able to take care of others. Making sure that we are eating, sleeping, exercising or at least leaving the house can help to ensure that you have the physical, emotional and mental strength to get through today. For some guidance on what things can positively impact your wellbeing see this website. If doing any of these things can feel overwhelming or even impossible, asking someone to check up on you and help hold you accountable can be beneficial. 

Focus on one thing at a time. 

If dealing with everything becomes too much just focus on one thing. If you feel that your family situation takes precedence then you are allowed to focus on them for the time being. You are allowed to step back from some of your responsibilities and not have to explain everything. Simply telling someone that you cannot do something as you are overwhelmed at the moment is enough. People will not look down on you. It may surprise you that people will rather be able to recognize your strength as you are able to put yourself first and recognize what you need to do. 

Situations like these are hard to deal with on their own but with the addition of uni life it can feel overwhelming. Managing all your responsibilities and emotions can be exhausting as well as incredibly isolating as no one around you understands the burdens that you are carrying. I hope that through reading this you can recognize firstly that you are not alone and secondly that you will be able to get through this. It’s not going to be easy and at times doing even one of these three things may be impossible, and so instead just being able to remember them is important.

If you ever find yourself experiencing a psychiatric emergency (suicidal ideation, panic attack, etc.) remember that you can call the IE Counseling 24/7 bilingual hotline: (+34) 619 270 148

And if you are reading this and you currently do not find yourself in a situation like this please take this as a reminder to be kind as you never know what someone is truly going through.

Featured image by Raina Shauki

Roché Smith Rabie
Roché Smith Rabie
An Architecture student from South Africa and the Former Editor in Chief of The Stork (2022-23) who loves write articles relating to student affairs, mental health and university life.

More from Author



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here