If you are an international student or have family abroad you visit over the summer, then this guide is for you.

by Francisca Quádrio

Summer is the best time to visit my family. I have four months free so I can definitely spare a couple of weeks to go see them. But going home after months in the UK, it’s not as easy as you would expect. The culture shock doesn’t get easier with time, and don’t get me started on the heat! I decided to create an ‘International Student Guide to Spending the Summer Home’ to help all my fellow students survive the change.

Have a dictionary at hand:

I don’t know about you, but since I have come to the UK, I rarely speak my mother tongue – Portuguese. With time, I have forgotten many words and replaced them with English ones. It just gets harder and harder to create a sentence without using English! I find myself translating words in order to explain aspects of my UK life to my family. It became useful to have a dictionary or a translator device with me. Luckily, this is not the case for everyone as a lot of international students keep practising their native languages with friends, family members and course mates.

Spend quality time with family and friends:

This is, without a doubt, my biggest advice. As international students, we don’t get that many opportunities to go home, so we should make the most of the time we have there. Even though you feel like spending all your days at home chilling – as I do- summer is the best time to go out and socialise. Friends, especially, can make this change much easier for you as a lot of them treat you like you never left. And who doesn’t like some quality family time? In my family, we enjoy watching crime series together as well as going to the café for a good chat. What do you do with your family or friends when you go home? Tell us on Twitter @thedemondmu.

Enjoy the food your country has to offer:

Even though the UK is very multicultural, not all of my favourite Portuguese food is available to purchase. It’s not easy to cook either, so coming home is my best bet to have as much delicious food as I want. From desserts to tapas and seafood, let’s just say I go back with a few extra kilograms in my baggage. Show us what you like eating at home by tagging us on Instagram @thedemonmag with the hashtag #foodfrommyhome.

Protect yourself from the sun:

Summer, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, can reach temperatures up to 50ºC. Record heatwaves are happening more often due to failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Coming from the UK, where I left with refreshing 20ºC, it is quite a big shock to be faced with 35ºC heat. It is important to protect ourselves from it. Sunscreen is definitely essential, especially on those extra sunny days. You should always have a bottle of water on you. It’s extremely crucial to drink at least 2L of water per day. Your body will stay cool and hydrated.

Take some time to relax:

Last but not least, relax, it’s summer. A lot of international students work during the summer for different reasons. Some to be productive, others to make money but the truth is there is not a lot of time to just do nothing. Coming home could be, to a lot of us, the only break we have all summer. My advice is to make the most out of it, go to the pool, binge-watch a new series, travel somewhere nice with your family. There are endless possibilities. Take this time to do what you wish you could all those days stuck in the library during term time.