Calling All Freshers: Dealing With Homesickness

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:

FAMILIAR THINGS

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.

Jack Kornfield


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.

Speak soon,

Rachael.


Materials:

(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!

 

 

 

 

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Here’s What No One Tells You About Finishing University

The time has finally come: I have finished my three year degree. I am no longer a student; I will no longer be attending university.

Life has been pretty crazy for the past few months (read: past year) and I always imagined that as soon as university was over, my life would get back on track and everything would be exactly how I wanted it. Oh bless past, naive me!

Don’t get me wrong, I am constantly flooded with relief now that everything is finished and handed in, but I didn’t account for the continuing stress, worry and general sense of unsure that’s still there. And that’s the thing- no one seems to tell you what it’s like finishing university. Sure, we’ve all heard the success stories and probably witnessed the glorious pride that third year students have when they’ve finished, but there’s loads of other things that I’m experiencing right now that I did not expect.

So allow me today to be the person to heed a word of warning. Finishing university is an amazing achievement and this is a time of totally celebration and relaxation, but there’s also a lot of weird stuff that goes on too.

THE MOURNING PERIOD

The past three years have passed by in what feels like a blur. Everything has been going at like a hundred miles an hour since I clicked that ‘accept offer’ button on UCAS three years ago. I actually can’t believe that I have finished my degree and will (hopefully!) be graduating next month! All of those years of hard work, stress and tears have come to a close and will hopefully all be worth it in the end.

As everything has just flown by, I can’t seem to reflect properly on my experience over these past three years and that’s making it hard for me to accept that it’s over. One minute I was working my arse off and living on my own and now I’m back in my family home with literally nothing to do. It’s a very strange situation and I know I should be taking full advantage of this chill time, but I can’t help but feel a little unsettled.

All of the routines I created for myself through my life at university have suddenly dissolved and no longer exist; I am trying to settle into living at home with my parents, after having my own freedom and independence for so long and although I know I have nothing to do, I can’t shake the feeling that I should be doing something productive instead of binging on daytime TV.

It’s taken me a long time to realise that I actually need a little time to kind of mourn the fact that I am no longer a student; that this part of my life, that has been such a major part of it for so long, is no longer there. I will no longer have that kind of lifestyle that you grow so used to over the course of your degree and that is a hard thing to accept and then try to change.

BURSTING THE BUBBLE

One major thing I have realised since moving home and being surrounded by people who actually have normal lives (read: have jobs/careers/families to care for, etc) is that university is such a bubble. The life you live when you’re at university is so far away from what ‘real life’ actually is.

Of course, moving out and living on your own can teach you some important lessons that will be valuable when you enter ‘real life’, but at university you’re surrounded by people of a similar age and everyone is in the same boat. When everyone behaves and acts the same, or in a very similar manner, it is very hard to see that this isn’t actually the norm. That’s what university is. It’s a total bubble and I for one got so caught up in it for three years that I almost couldn’t imagine life outside of it.

So when I left, the bubble burst pretty hard and it’s hit me that the life I’ve made for myself over the course of my degree isn’t really fit for purpose, or something I can continue now I’m no longer in that space.

I now need to build new routines and new attitudes and basically have to construct the structure of my life once again, from scratch. I’m finding this pretty difficult at the moment, if I’m being totally honest, as I get very rooted in my routines and find them very hard to break. But I’m hoping that now I’ve addressed the issue (mourning my past life as a student and learning that what I experienced in this time wasn’t ‘real life’) I can start to move forward and get back on track.

IT CONTINUES

Even though I no longer have any deadlines or commitments, I can’t seem to shake the horrible feeling that I have something to do that’s constantly hanging over my head. Of course I have hobbies and little projects (like this blog!) that I want to get on with, but those are things I want to do for fun for now and have no real deadline or consequence.

The feeling of having something to do is something that all students will recognise and is something that we’ve had over us for years and years. No wonder I’m having a difficult time adjusting to the fact I literally have nothing to do anymore! But I just wish that it wasn’t getting in the way of things right now.

It seems that all of the stress, anxiety and just general worry that I’ve gotten so used to experiencing is still present, even though my lifestyle has totally changed! It’s kind of annoying, more than anything, as now is is the first time in what feels like forever that I can actually just chill out and take some time for myself, but I still feel guilty for doing so.

I know that, as with everything, it’s an adjustment period and things won’t always be like this. I just need to be patient and allow myself some time to get through it. I feel bad for being so unproductive, but I need to stop being so hard on myself. Major changes take time to adjust to and so I need to allow myself some time to do just that.

Nelson Mandela


So this was kind of a little update on where I’m at right now. Hopefully it may help some of you who are also in the same boat, or maybe it’ll allow you to prepare yourself for when the time comes for you. I am hoping to take some more time for blogging now that I’m free, but as always bare with me a little bit.

If you have any experience with finishing university (or any kind of education) and have some tips for me, please let me know! I’d love to hear your input. If you’re currently still studying, I wish you all luck with everything!

Speak soon,

Rachael.


Materials: (Relevant/University Posts)

Calling All Freshers: Freshers’ Week Essentials

Many of you will no doubt be heading off to university very soon (or you may even be there now, you lucky thing!) and as you’re probably aware Freshers’ Week is one of the most important dates on your academic calendar. Especially in your first year. It’s your chance to settle into your new home, make new friends and overall just have a good time.

However, it can be a tricky time for you so I’m here today to list the absolute essentials I think you need to make your Freshers’ Week a wonderful yet safe and comfortable time for you.

Please note, I will be appealing more to the ‘typical’ Fresher in this post. The kind who is looking forward to the clubs, events and drinking. But I want you to know that if this is not your cup of tea you can still have a brilliant time. You do what works best for you and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for that.

THE ESSENTIALS

  • A Medical/First-Aid Kit

You can make one of these yourself before you go away. Freshers’ Week is a fun but messy time so I’d recommend you take plenty of painkillers (paracetamol, ibuprofen), plasters and cold relief medicine (because Freshers’ Flu is totally real. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise). Better to be safe than sorry.

  • Warm, Comfortable Clothes

Like jogging bottoms, hoodies and sweatshirts. You’re probably going to be hungover a lot of the time this week so these are essential for when you have to get ready, but really want to stay in your PJs.

  • A Door-Stop

While you’re getting ready for the latest event or you’re just chilling in your room trying to recover, leaving your door open will show your new flatmates that you’re in and welcome to be interrupted. It’s a great way to try to bond with these new people who you’re going to see everyday for the next year.

 

  • A Pack of Cards

There’s going to be an awful amount of pre-drinking this week (if you want to) and although it is best to be sensible and drink in moderation, playing drinking games is a hilarious way to bond with your new flatmates. Playing cards can be used for various different games and having these will make sure you’re not just sat there in silence.

  • Junk/Easy Food

Again, thinking about your hungover days you’re going to want something that doesn’t require a lot of movement but will fill you up. Lots of carbohydrates is my personal recommendation. It’s better to have something in just in case you’re not up for visiting the local takeaway.

Star

I hope you all have a brilliant, and safe, Freshers’ Week and a wonderful year at university!

Speak soon,

Rachael.

A Guide to Taking Notes at University

As we’re vastly approaching summer and the end of school years, I know there are many people both excited and anxious about heading to university in September.

As a second year student I’ve learnt a few things about how university works and how to make it work for you. One of the issues many people face is how to take notes and ensure that you are making the most out of your lectures.

I have tried various different ways to take notes over the past couple of years and today I’m going to lay out some of your options to help you get along.

Please note that these are the things I have tried and what works for me may not work for you. It’s a process and you’ll figure out what you’re comfortable with in time. That’s what your first year is for!

FOLDERS

Folder.jpg

Using a refill pad for all lectures and then dividing the notes into separate folders later is a great way for those who can keep on top of their work and like to be super organised. You can even add in the lecture slides (which will normally be provided online by your lecturer) to add more to your revision.

SUBJECT BOOK

Book.jpg

Using a subject notebook with each section dedicated to a particular module ensures that all of your notes are in one place but gives you enough structure to easily navigate through. This one is pretty simple and one that I’ve noticed most people to use. If you want something easy but organised, I’d go for this.

SEPARATE NOTEBOOKS

Notebook.jpg

Using different notebooks for each subject can be useful for revision as you know exactly where your notes are and there is no fear of getting muddled. The only issue is you might be carrying a canny few notebooks around with you!

TIPS & TRICKS

  • Make sure you date all of your notes to help you sort out topics when it comes to revision or if you need to look back at a later date.
  • Title your notes with whatever the lecture is called. This will help you organise everything and make it easier if you need to find out more information.
  • If you can’t keep up with the lecturer or leave out a few vital details, make a note to check online after the lecture and make sure you do it!

As always, I hope this helped and if you have any tips or advice please let us know!

Speak soon,

Rachael.