It’s that time of year again! Summer is almost over for those of you who are students and it’s time to think about what’s coming up next. I know for a lot of people, university will be at the forefront of your every thought at the moment.
As someone who has literally been there, done that (didn’t get the t-shirt, but I have a couple of hoodies does that count?) I feel like I can actually offer some genuine advice in this area and it’s something I have done a few times.
I find that the best advice comes from someone who has been through the same thing, and can therefore give advice from the other side and the topic I’m going to get into in a minute is something that I’ve had my fair share of experience with.
Homesickness is definitely a major worry for university students, as this is probably the first time in your life you’ll experience living away from home (if that’s something you chose to do. Of course, not everyone chooses to move home for university, and that’s cool- you do you, but I’m talking to the general bunch today) and it can be pretty tough at times. But there are ways to make is easier, tried and tested by yours truly, and that’s what I wanted to share today:
What often makes moving away to university so scary is the fact that everything is so different. You are no longer surrounded by the things you have probably had around you for the majority of your life, but that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.
Normally before you move away, you’ll buy a ton of new stuff for your new student digs. But when you’re packing everything up, why not include some of your favourite bits from home? Pick out a couple of home ware bits*, like cushions or ornaments, that are in your bedroom at home to put into your new place.
Surrounding yourself with familiar things that you recognise and love will make you feel more at home wherever you are. It’ll make home feel closer so you’ll feel comfortable and able to get stuck in.
* You’ll be warned by your universities to not take anything too valuable to your new accommodation and I’d recommend you take notice of that. At least until you’ve gotten yourself settled in and figured out who you’re living with. Better to be safe than sorry!
PHONE HOME… REGULARLY
Freshers’ week is such a busy time in the academic calendar, with all of the different events going on, and if you have moved to university the days just seem to fly by regardless of what time of year it is. So it is not uncommon for you to have gone a very long time without actually speaking to anyone from home.
This is okay, of course, but if you’re feeling a little homesick it can make things feel worse. When you’re out of contact with your family/friends/loved ones it can sometimes make you feel more isolated and alone than you really are.
To avoid this make sure you block out some time to call home. Block out a decent amount of time where you can go to your room, or a quiet place, and have a genuine conversation with those on the other end. If you can, try to make this a routine where at the same time every night, or every week, you call home and have a catch up.
It can be hard going from seeing and speaking to the same people every day to not seeing them at all, so try to keep in contact whenever you can. It’ll remind you that those you miss are never too far away and should make things a little easier to handle.
USE SOCIETIES AND ACTIVITIES
There are countless of opportunities to try new things and meet new people at university and one of the easiest ways to do this is to join a society. Every university has a bunch of various societies and clubs that are open for students to join (you’ve probably heard about them on open days) and are normally one of the most common ways friendships are formed.
I can’t really give too much advice on this one, as I was not actually connected to any society while at university. Most of the clubs and societies at my university were linked to a sport and I am so not a sporty person, so that was out of the question for me!
This isn’t the case for all unis however and there are normally clubs and societies to suit any interest. Take a good look during your Freshers’ Fayre and see if there’s anything you fancy. Most societies offer a week or so ‘free trial’ that’ll allow you to try a new sport or hobby without paying anything.
Or if societies aren’t your thing, most student unions host events throughout the year. These are normally always free and are a great way to connect with people you mightn’t have encountered otherwise.
Throwing yourself into clubs or activities is a great way to combat homesickness. It’ll encourage you to get out there, meet new people and be busy so you won’t have chance to think about home! Plus, if you’re having a good time and are making new friends you mightn’t feel as homesick as you’re making a new home for yourself.
KEEP OLD ROUTINES
Homesickness usually comes about because everything is so different to what you’re used to when you move away. And although this can be nerve-wracking at first, it is a wonderful opportunity for you to make your own routines and create a lifestyle that works for you.
In the meantime, however, you can stick to some of your old routines that you made at home. The easiest way I can think of doing this is by watching the same TV shows as you did at home. I know it seems a little trivial, but it can be so helpful. Again it’s about making things familiar.
If there’s a certain show you watch on a certain day, take some time out of your routine to sit down and watch it like you would at home. This tip isn’t massively practical during Freshers’ Week, as things are normally so busy around this time and I’d encourage you to socialise and get to know your flatmates first and foremost, but further on down the line it might become more helpful.
BE HONEST AND OPEN UP
Finally, if things are really feel to difficult and you find yourself struggling during university please speak to someone about it.
A good thing to remember at this point is that literally every other person who has moved out is going through the same thing as you, even if they don’t show it. Start a conversation with your friends about it and see if you can help each other. There are also counselling services that are free for students available on campus and I’d urge you to use these if you feel like you need to.
There will be student representatives and plenty of other members of staff around who are trained and understand exactly what you’re going through, so try to find someone to talk about it with.
If none of these seem too appealing for whatever reason, you can also seek support from your GP if needed.
Living away from home while studying at university can be such a wonderful experience, and one I’m definitely grateful for having, but it can also be difficult at times and that’s okay.
I experienced homesickness on and off throughout my three years at university and luckily only experienced it negatively towards the end of my degree.
University is a weird and wonderful time and I know you’re going to have a brilliant time once you get there. I am so proud of you for all of your hard work and I wish you every future success.
If you have any tips for homesickness, or any university experience stories you’d like to share please let me know.
(Past posts on university: newest-oldest)
Here’s What No One Tells You About Finishing University
Freshers’ Week Essentials
Second Year Experience
A Guide to Taking Notes at University
Freshers’ Week: Expectations vs. Reality
Money Saving Tips That Actually Work
This is What They Don’t Tell You On Open Day!
Bloody hell I’ve done a lot!