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“Soundscapes” seek to swerve homesickness

Global banking giant HSBC – keen to stay close to international students as clients – has released an interesting series of “soundscapes” available for download: the sounds of home for various nationalities which they can download and listen to while adjusting to a new overseas study environment.

The compilations were crowd-sourced and created by a group of international influencers.

"Sounds and smells are - more than the other three senses - the most pervasive and the least contextual"

At present, there are four versions available on music sharing platforms (and also YouTube) for international students to find and use, featuring the sounds of home in Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and India.

Sounds such as a busy street market, an chai vendor or the crowds chanting in the national stadium of Malaysia have been included in the Sounds of Home compilations, which has been developed to counteract homesickness.

Raghujit Narula, global head of international and cross-border at HSBC, said the intention was for international students to feel closer to the people and places they love in a sensory way.

“As someone who has lived and worked across seven different countries, I know what it’s like to feel homesick,” he said.

“We created these soundscapes to complement the financial guidance and wider wellbeing support we provide as a leading bank for international students all over the world.

“It’s another way in which HSBC is a reassuring presence for students who are away from home, helping them to navigate the fulfilling and challenging world of international study.”

The compilations were made following research which canvassed the views of 897 international students from 11 countries and territories: Australia, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, UK and USA.

They had all studied abroad in the last five years and three-quarters (74%) of those polled said they specifically missed the sounds of their hometown.

Baroness Susan Greenfield, former fellow at The University of Oxford and CEO of Nero-Bio, was also involved in the project.

She said, “International students were born into a connected, digital era, but the majority still miss their familiar lifestyles in the real world.

“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.”

Greenfield, who is also featured in the “making of” video, noted that sound can be used to good effect to induce a sense of personal well-being. “Sound also allows room for imagination, conjuring up in your mind a personal scenario,” she said.

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