6 ways to deal with homesickness at university
Originally published by Good Housekeeping
This is the week that homesickness tends to kick in for new students. They've had three weeks of fun and excitement, but now the hangover starts and it dawns on them that they really have moved away from their childhood home - this isn’t a holiday. So it’s important to remind them that it’s totally normal. Most people will get homesick at some point during university, but there are a few tricks to help them deal with it:
Get used to your new surroundings
A big part of feeling homesick is feeling uncomfortable with the unfamiliar. Your room might seem safe, but isolating yourself is going to make you feel a lot worse.
Get out of your room and get acquainted with your university's campus and the surrounding area by walking around and exploring. The more you get to know your university town, and feel like your campus belongs to you, the more comfortable you’ll feel generally.
Stay connected to home
Maintaining your relationships with your family and friends back home is important in helping you miss them less. Talk to your friends and family a few times a week, or more if it makes you comfortable.
Keep items that remind you of home around you
Cover your walls with photos of your family and friends, bring with you your furnishings from your bedroom, trinkets that mean a lot to you - whatever makes you feel better, and connected to home.
If you’re really missing home, go home for the weekend. There is research from Atos that shows dramatic rise in travel from University towns over the coming weeks. The increase in journeys is second only to the busy Christmas period.
If money is a worry, make sure you get a 16-25 railcard, as train travel is just unaffordable without one. If you spend £90 on train fares in a year (which is about two journeys), you’ll make your money back on the card. You don’t want to feel like you are trapped in a place, so get yourself a travel bargain, so you can go home.
Get plenty of exercise
When you’re feeling homesick, the thought of going out and exercise might sound pretty unappealing, but keeping fit and healthy will really help you feel better.
Luckily, student gyms are the cheapest gyms you’ll ever experience. When I was at university, a one year membership was £30 (and then I thought that was super expensive). After graduating you’ll be lucky to find a £30 monthly membership, so make the most of it while it is cheap. You can get free gym passes in non-student gyms such as LA Fitness and Nuffield health if you want to try out fancy gyms.
And of course, you can do free stuff as well. Check out the NHS Couch to 5K app, which is a completely free tool for running beginnings, free Sweaty Betty classes and free outdoor gyms.
Feeling shy, awkward, or vulnerable is a common side-effect of homesickness. If you don’t take any risks and get yourself ‘out there’, you’ll miss out new university experiences that could help you adjust to your new situation.
Really push yourself, fill up your time and build a routine to stop feeling lonely. Look into volunteering opportunities, part time jobs, sports clubs and societies. Filling up your social calendar will help you feel less lonely.
Talk to people
We all feel homesick at some point and it can be completely overwhelming. Don’t think you’re in this alone. Talk to the students around you, as the odds are they are feeling something similar to you.
It’s also important to look for the signs that what you’re dealing with is more than homesickness. Have you been homesick more days than not since starting university? Are you able to do the things you need to do, such as attending to classes?
If this sounds like you, seek guidance from professional at university who can help you assess your situation and help you develop a plan to move forward. University counsellors will understand what you’re going through can help move you out of a homesick rut. Don’t be embarrassed about reaching out and getting help from your university, lots of people do it.
It’s important to keep in mind that homesickness is normal. We all have bouts of loneliness at school, especially when you are a fresher. Be sure to look forward to all the positive things your college career holds for you.
Homesickness can be incredibly overwhelming, but make sure you give yourself time, because it will get better. You just have to realise that you are at university for a reason.