4 min read

Sophie shares her experiences of being a student at uni without the support of her family, for Estranged Students Solidarity Week.

My name is Sophie, and I am a third-year student studying Photography here at Portsmouth university. Get comfortable, wherever you may be right now reading this, grab yourself a coffee, or tea, or heck, a pint from the pub, whatever takes your fancy. I hope for this to be insightful. 

If you are lucky enough not to know what being estranged is in just a few words, I can’t lie, I am somewhat envious, but if you do or if you’re curious as to what being estranged is, then I welcome you to read on, whatever your situation may be.

What does it mean to be estranged?

If you were to google search what ‘estranged’ meant, you would be given the following definition: ‘(of a person) no longer close or affectionate to someone; alienated’. Now of course, this is a general definition and could be used in a variety of contexts, but as an estranged student, this means that they no longer have a relationship with either of their parents and the brutal truth of it, is that a lot of the time, they don’t have a lot of say in the matter. 

To put it bluntly, for us estranged students - and maybe this is the case for you too - we do not have the privilege of having support from our parents, whether that be financial, emotional, or physical. 

For a student starting university or even throughout the university process, being estranged can be quite the challenge, but it doesn’t have to be all as daunting and terrifying as it may seem. 

I suppose you could say that I am proof that estranged students can still do well and prosper, despite having a lack of parental support. I am in my third year, so far I have survived and doing all the usual fun stuff any other regular student would do, as well as all the stressful things alongside, like writing a dissertation, but I wouldn’t recommended trying to cram it all in at the last minute or turning up to lectures hungover, ha! We’ve all been there!

Support available for estranged students

Our University here at Portsmouth has so many great attributes that often go unnoticed, just like it’s affiliations with charities like Stand Alone, that support estranged students, but it isn’t just financial support, there is the support from the wellbeing staff, and incredible support from the Student Finance Team

Before I finish off, let me take you back to this definition: ‘(of a person) no longer close or affectionate to someone; alienated’. I would like to draw your attention to the word, ‘alienated’. 

I, as with many other estranged students, and perhaps yourself, often find myself relating to this word quite a lot. I, if I am allowed to be open with you here, often feel alien, abnormal, weird, odd, confused, isolated, as if I do not fit in or belong anywhere, if you too feel like this, I promise you, it doesn’t always feel like this. 

You see, at the University of Portsmouth, not only do you get great support from the staff, but you also get students who also feel like you and I do, and with that, you find yourself in a situation where you no longer feel alienated, but like you are home. 

With this, I would argue, being estranged can also be beautiful. You just need to know where to look. As a part of life, you need to learn to colour outside the lines to be free.