Homesickness affects most who take the leap and go to university; it can be embarrassing, upsetting and isolating.
We are now a few weeks into term and the real work is beginning. You might have discovered that university or halls isn’t exactly what you expected, or maybe your friends elsewhere in the country (or world) appear to be having the time of their lives on Social Media or put simply, you’ve realised that partying and socialising around the clock just isn’t for you. Homesickness is the worst feeling and whilst it may only last for a day or two, for some it seems like it will never go away.
I have put together a list of tips and tricks for easing feelings of homesickness, sadness and nostalgia.
1. Don’t get upset and blame yourself for feeling homesick
It can be hard not to blame yourself when you are struggling to cope with university life. Don’t forget that most are finding it as tough as you are. Moving away from home, living alone, looking after yourself and getting all what is expected of you completed can be tiring and at times ‘too much’.
Take a step back, breathe and everything will be A-OK.
2. Always have realistic expectations…
University experiences in reality are often different to one’s initial expectations. By week four, everyone is usually tired, ill and no longer interested in partying Monday to Sunday. University is not all fun and games; it often involves a ton of work, stress and sleepless nights. Don’t lose sight of the idea that this isn’t forever!
3. Hang out in social/communal areas
Social or communal areas are crucial for making friends and combating the feeling of not belonging. Everyone is in the same situation, therefore it isn’t weird to randomly talk to someone or sit with them. Go to all events on offer, hang out in coffee shops on campus or at the student union!
4. Memoirs and home-comforts
A homesickness lifesaver for me is home-comforts, photos and memoirs. When I move in, one of the first things I do is pin up some photographs, old concert tickets and just tokens that remind me of family and friends.
Alternatively, home-comforts such as the duvet cover from your old bedroom or simply making your favourite homely meal once a week can also help to feel like you aren’t somewhere alien or unwelcoming. Home can be anywhere, if you want it to be.
5. Explore and immerse yourself
Often there are so many places to see in a new city or town; explore and visit new places, alone or with friends.
6. Have a routine
A routine can prevent feeling overwhelming and useless. Organising your time and spreading out your weekly uni workload can help keep a relaxed, much less-stressful, self. Exercising, eating healthy and sleeping for the same amount each night help with positivity.
7. Join a society or club and try something new
Societies are key to making friends with similar interests to you. They provide a break away from studying, the opportunity to mix with people from across the university as well as the chance to try something completely new.
8. Organise an activity with your flatmates
Whilst making friends with your flatmates can at first seem awkward, breaking the ice with a group meal or trip out and about is something that I’d most definitely recommend. Your flatmates don’t have to be your bestest friends but they certainly can help you feel at ease.
9. Remain Positive
Positivity breads positivity; and I know that the hardest thing to do is smile when you feel like burying yourself under a duvet all day and sobbing into your pillow but believe it or not it can work wonders. If you convince yourself that you are confident and content, then it makes you more approachable to others as well as picking yourself up off the floor.
10. Stay in contact with Home
Staying in contact with friends and family is important but don’t let it rule your life. If you find yourself on the phone to your Mum and turning down a catch-up with your course mates then that probably isn’t a good sign. You can end up convincing yourself that you aren’t wanted as you are ‘never invited to anything’ when in actual fact it is you that is pushing others away.
11. Make a Bucket List
Let’s be honest, especially if you go to University in a City like me, at what point in your life are you going to be able to live in that exact same place ever again? Make the most of your surroundings, create a bucket list and get it ticked off!
12. Ask for Help
Lastly, and most importantly, ask for help. You are absolutely not the only one. Talk to others, your university student services or friends at other universities – you’ll be surprised how much it can help.
Smile, you’ve totally got this!