What it’s really like studying online at Sussex Uni when you’re living abroad

What life is like trying to adjust to the new normal

For many international students at Sussex, the global pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have upended traditional university life. You have probably found yourself back in your home country, attempting to regain some sense of normality. Wherever you are currently studying from, it’s likely that your day to day life is currently very different to your Brighton routine.

Perhaps the country you are now living in is a go-to holiday destination for many people – but now it’s where you will be logging onto Canvas, Zooming your lecturers and completing assignments. Of course, there are various pros and cons to this new work-from-home setup, so here’s a rundown of what online university is like when living abroad, from someone who’s doing it right now, from the beautiful city of Athens, Greece.

An almost perfect day

You wake up in the morning and the sun is shining. You have your coffee and breakfast outside while you gaze at the sea unfolding on the horizon: a truly ethereal warm country morning experience.

You then proceed to have an interesting online lecture, and afterwards you go for a walk on the beach and a socially-distanced picnic with your friends. Or maybe you meet with your studying buddy, then go for a walk in the city’s national garden, or perhaps the Acropolis area in Athens. If it’s a hot day, you might go for a swim at your secret beach spot.

But then, you open Instagram and stumble upon pictures of your uni friends drinking coffee from your favourite coffee shop in Brighton, going the Hellenic bakery without you, having movie nights, or just cycling across the pier. What’s that you’re feeling? Perhaps a tinge of jealousy?

From that point on, you may start reflecting on the good and the bad of living abroad while studying at Sussex.


Missing your uni friends is just the first hurdle – there’s much more to come. Seminars and lectures that require an open microphone and camera are a struggle, as your family will make sure to spice up your seminars ‘by accident’. Also, having to switch between languages can be a bit confusing, as almost everyone in your environment is now speaking your mother tongue.

Your assignments are a handful, and now you also have a dissertation to complete – but the support can feel minimal, as none of your home friends truly understand this because they’re attending different universities with different assignments (for example, Greek universities do not assign dissertations until the fourth, fifth, or even sixth year).

Despite all of that, the biggest struggle can be simply living at your family home. You love your family, but being in the same house with them almost 24/7 can be irritating: you’re in your roaring 20’s and you miss living alone or with friends.


However, there are advantages to this new setup. You might have a boyfriend/girlfriend here that you get to be with, without navigating a long-distance relationship for a while. You can reconnect with your childhood or high school friends. You can drive around the city and not be confused by drivers being on the right side of the car. You might find that you’re more productive, as you are familiar with your environment. And the weather is most likely better than in Brighton.

Final thoughts

Now, studying online under complete lockdown again will probably be a difficult experience, especially as the sun is setting earlier and the weather is getting colder. Due to the pandemic, all aspects of life are different, as well as everyone’s experience while studying online and abroad.

All and all, there is a personal as well as an obvious global reason you are not back at Sussex in person, and this brings a range of pros and cons. Nonetheless, you can’t help but miss the campus, Brighton, and, of course, your uni friends. And yes, you even miss the terrible weather sometimes.

Until we meet again