Homesickness At University (It's Not a Myth!)

Have you been feeling a bit down in the dumps lately? Do you miss your family and friends from home? Rest assured, you are not alone!

 

Being away from home can be a stressful and daunting time for us all and homesickness is something that, as university students, we are particularly prone to, especially during the first term. Research shows that 50-70% of new UK students suffer from homesickness at some point in the first year (NUS.org), and I can safely say that I am part of that statistic. It doesn’t matter if you’ve left home for the first time or are used to being away from your family – it can make us all feel low at some point. 

 

That being said, homesickness is by no means confined within the university bubble or a symptom of being young. Whether you’re starting a new job that is halfway across the world or merely relocating into a flat just around the corner from your parents’ house, moving to a new environment can be very overwhelming at any time in our lives.

 

It’s okay not to be okay. After all, change is what we humans fear the most; we are constantly in a state of inertia, only wanting to do things that make us feel secure. In conjunction with ‘World Mental Health Day’ on Thursday 10th October, here are my four tips on how you can combat homesickness, whoever and wherever you are, and, in turn, look after your mental health. 

 

1. Turn your new environment into a homely, positive space

First things first, you need to get rid of the cobwebs and the clinical-feel that is contaminating your new space by making it into your own. This could involve decorating it with your favourite possessions, such as books, posters, photos, your bedroom clock that first taught you how to tell the time, a family heirloom that you always carry with you - you get the picture!

 

This is for you to feel as comfortable and as safe as possible in your new area, not to mention the fact that you can unleash your inner-Picasso that you never even knew existed. Plus, it should keep you busy for a little while which links nicely onto my next top tip.

 

 

2. Keep busy, but don’t go OTT...

 

Now I know that for many of you, as university students, keeping preoccupied is not exactly difficult when balancing the demands of your course whilst still trying to maintain an (albeit constrained) social life. 

 

However, this isn’t what I mean by ‘keeping busy’. Feeling stressed and mentally drained is hardly going to cure your homesickness and reinforce positive affirmations. In fact, it will probably make you feel worse as you start to feel like you can no longer cope with this overwhelming  lifestyle.

 

Instead, fill your spare time with exciting activities and events that you know you’ll enjoy. Joining new clubs, classes, or societies is a great way to meet new people and forget about your troubles. But, for some of us, this can still seem too daunting as it requires you to put yourself out there and be even more sociable. If this is you, then by all means go on those morning jogs that you always did at home during the week, have a book-marathon, or even go to the gym if that is what you enjoy doing (I say ‘enjoy’ with little conviction as I struggle to see how the gym can be enjoyable - but that’s just me!).

 

 

3. Schedule a trip back home

 

This tip is entirely optional and if you feel like going home will only make your homesickness worse then you can ignore this one. 

 

If not, and you’re in need of seeing a familiar face, then I would advise that you book your train, coach, or plane back home as soon as you can. This way you’ll have an event to look forward to and life in your new environment won’t feel as difficult, believe me! I’ve only been staying at my university halls for three weeks now and I have already been back home once. 

 

I booked my train back to Coventry way in advance for two reasons: one, because it’s cheaper and two, because I knew that if I got through the two weeks without having a bit of a wobble, then as a reward I could see my family!

 

 

4. Look after YOU

 

Last but most certainly not least, you need to take care of you and your wellbeing. I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to not bottle up your emotions. 

 

There are so many people out there that care about you and want to help, so let them. Drop your mum or dad a text to let them know how you’re getting on (as I’m sure they would love to hear from you), facetime your best friend from home to keep them in the loop of your new life- and seriously, please don’t worry. Homesickness is completely normal, and I promise you that it will get easier to be away from home even if it may not seem like it right now.

 

 

So, there we are. My four tips on how best to combat homesickness. I hope that at least one of these tips help you and remember, there is always someone who will listen. Don’t be a stranger!