For many people, university is the first time in their life that they might be living away from their families. It isn't always an easy topic to discuss as you are expected to be embrace your newfound independence with open arms. But sometimes, adjusting to life away from your home can be difficult, regardless of whether you’ve moved half an hour away or halfway around the world.
There is an expectation for university to be the “best time of your life”, so it can be really difficult if you don’t feel that way. Here are some tips that can help to combat feelings of homesickness at university.
Get out and keep busy
While it might be tempting to just sit in your room, it’s important to get out even if it’s just for a short while. Grabbing some friends and going for a coffee, going to a society meeting, heading to the gym or even just making sure you’re going to all your lectures are all ways that you can get your mind off your homesickness. Scheduling social activities will give you things to look forward to and will help you to build a network at university too.
Check out the notice boards on campus too. Universities are aware that students may feel lonely or homesick so they will host regular events and socials to help you become more comfortable with campus life.
Bring some home comforts
When packing for university bring your favourite bedding, photos of your family and friends and any trinkets that might help make your university room feel as homely as possible. Take whatever you need to feel more comfortable in your surroundings – don't be embarrassed!
If you have your own room, you can decorate it in whatever style you like. If you are sharing a room, why not make it a roommate activity. It will bring you closer and help your new space feel more comfortable.
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Call home (but not too often)
If you try to stop yourself from calling home altogether, you will only miss them even more. Start by calling or texting every other day in the beginning and then it will slowly decrease as you begin to get busier with studies and social activities. You could also video call for the added bonus of seeing your friend's and family's faces.
This also goes for visiting home. Schedule in a visit a few weeks into term to give yourself something to look forward to, but try not to go home every single weekend otherwise you'll end up missing out on social activities at your university and on the chance of making new friends. You should try to give yourself the chance to find a support network at university too.
Talk to people
If your homesickness is getting to a point where you are finding it difficult to cope then try to speak to someone about it. Most universities will have counselling services that you can turn to for advice and support on how to deal with your feelings.
Whether you need a quick chat or some regularly scheduled visits, the campus medical office can help organise this for you.
If you have pre-existing mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression, homesickness may trigger these so talking your concerns over with someone may help to keep those in check. Homesickness could also lead to these conditions so try to monitor your feelings as best as you can.
Look after yourself
Your mental and physical health are linked so if you start neglecting your physical health, your mental health could start to go downhill too. It sounds simple but getting enough sleep, eating healthily and getting some exercise can really help to boost your well-being.
Cooking is a terrific way to bond with your flatmates or roommates. Discuss your favourite recipes, make dinner time a group event or take turns cooking. You will stay healthy, make friends, and start your own home routines.
Give yourself time
If you don’t love university the second you step on to campus, that is OK. Some students will take to university life like a duck to water, but if you take a little longer, there is no shame in that. It is quite a big life adjustment to make in so many ways, so don’t pressure yourself to settle in immediately.
Conversely don’t be alarmed if in the first term you don’t have any issues and then find yourself feeling homesick later on in the year. Homesickness can strike at any time, even during your final year, so don’t be too hard on yourself if it does happen to you. Remember you are not alone.
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You’re never too old to miss your home – and don’t feel like you are the only person who goes through homesickness at university