University years are the greatest of some people’s lives, as this is when they make life-long friends, find their independence and really come into their own. However, for lots of students, it can be very difficult living away for the first time and homesickness can be a constant battle they deal with.
If this sounds familiar, you shouldn’t let it ruin your university experience, as there are plenty of ways you can deal with homesickness – here are just a few.
Bring a bit of home to university
One of the best ways to make yourself feel at home at university – especially when you’ve first moved into your student accommodation – is by bringing a bit of your old life with you. It can be a bit daunting moving into a room that is bare, so why don’t you take some decorations from your bedroom at home to make you feel more comfortable? Pictures, clocks, blankets and small knick knacks will all remind you of your parents’ house, immediately making your new space feel warm and cozy.
As well as hanging up fairy lights and posters of your favorite bands, it is a good idea to take personal items with you, such as photo albums, your school yearbook and family recipes, as these can remind you of your family and friends and make them feel a lot closer.
It is easy to feel homesick if you coop yourself up in your bedroom all the time, so make sure you get yourself out and about and involve yourself in lots of activities. This is where your student union can really be useful, with lots of universities offering social groups, sports teams and societies you can join. This will help you make friends and keep busy, distracting you from feeling lonely and blue.
It is also a good idea to keep your schedule full for the same reason, so whether this means planning lots of things to do with your new friends or exploring your new city to make you feel more familiar with it, it’ll help you stave off homesickness.
Stay in touch
Just because you’ve moved away from home, this doesn’t mean you have to cut contact with your friends and family entirely. Calling home every few days will help you still feel close to your parents and siblings, while occasional phone calls to old friends will help you share your experiences with other people who are probably going through similar things. A chat to someone who knows you well will lift you up and could even make you feel more positive about your own university experience.
While lots of freshers visit home several times during their first term, it is a good idea not to go back too often. While it may be tempting to visit your parents for a warm house, delicious food and to get your laundry done, being away from university can mean you miss out on social events and it could make it harder to build strong friendships if you’re regularly going away. However, an occasional visit can give you a boost and enable you to go back re-energized.
This may sound hard, but being patient will really work in your favor when it comes to homesickness. It can be very tempting to think your new university life/course/house is not for you, but this could all be because you’re going through a lot of changes. You need to stick with it for a few months to see whether you really can’t cope, as you might find that after some time, you adjust to your new timetable, lifestyle and friendships and fit in extremely well.
It is important to remain positive, and remember that most students – particularly those in their first year – are going through exactly the same thing as you.
If it’s your course that is making you feel down, and you’re really unhappy with the subject you’re studying, don’t be afraid to discuss this with your tutor. There might be options to change modules that are better suited to you or even change your course entirely, which don’t mean you have to drop out of university.
It can be difficult to know whether the course will improve over time or not, but the sooner you decide whether it is for you, the better, as it is relatively easy to switch in the first few weeks of term. However, if you leave it too late, there might be too much to catch up on regarding the new course, and you may be advised to start again next year.
Use your university’s support center
Should you find yourself really struggling with settling into your new life, don’t forget to use your university’s support center. Universities typically have a number of people you can talk to, which may help you deal with your homesickness. It might be that seeking help from your student advice center will be enough – such as by giving you information on changing your accommodation or course – or the international office for foreign students who would like a bit of additional support.
Universities also have counselors, so if you’re feeling really low, it is worth asking to have a few sessions to see whether this will help you. They can give you professional advice and somewhere you can be totally free to talk, so you don’t feel alone during your first year.
Natasha Al-Atassi is a student news writer and contributes to a number of blogs and other publications, she is also a keen wedding blogger, you can find some of her other articles at Vita Student Houses.