In our Mental Health and Wellbeing at University survey, we found that 73% of students suffer from homesickness at uni. Going to university is a life-changing event that can be pretty scary and see you waving goodbye to your comfort zone.
Homesickness is something that affects most students, even those who’ve never really been homebirds before. From building a support network of friends to keeping your mum on speed-dial, we’ve looked at the best ways to tackle homesickness, and found it’s all about balance:
1. Surround yourself with friends…
Most of us crave some independence when we’re in the ‘grumpy teenager’ phase. Well, careful what you wish for, because now you’ve got it! Having no one to tell you what to do is liberating, but it can also be a bit intimidating. Surrounding yourself with a group of friends can help you feel a bit more grounded.
Not sure where to find them? Meeting new people might be the last thing on your mind if you’re craving the normality of home, but don’t beat yourself up about it. Potential friends are everywhere at uni – and everyone is in the same boat.
Offer to brew up and see your housemates come running if you need someone to cosy up with for a Netflix marathon, or go out on a limb and chat to someone in lectures. Coursemates and people in your societies and sports clubs are guaranteed to share some of your interests, and they can give you a sense of security in your new surroundings.
… But make time for yourself
Are you the social butterfly of your group? If so, loneliness at uni is probably the least of your worries. Uni is heaven for socialites, extroverts and class clowns. However, even for the most outgoing amongst us, the endless supply of new faces and nights out can get exhausting.
If you’re a sufferer of FOMO, you’re probably finding that there’s always something to say ‘yes’ to. While you’re always having so much fun, don’t forget to give yourself some breathing room. Make sure to set aside some you-time so you can recuperate and avoid burning out.
2. Stay in touch with your loved ones…
Whether you’re used to going to your nan’s for tea, giving your mum a call on your way home, or indulging in a Netflix session with your best mate every Saturday, moving to uni means not seeing the same people on a daily basis.
In time, you’ll see that this is a good thing. It’ll give you more confidence and independence, and it’ll strengthen friendships that were built to last – but initially, you’re probably going to miss them. A lot.
Luckily, we live in the age of technology, giving you a million ways to keep in touch. Snapchats to your BFF, Facebook statuses to keep mum up-to-date, or even a Skype call with your grandad* will all make you feel a bit closer to home. We all have that one person who can make us feel a hundred times better with just a few words – give them a call when you’re feeling low. They’ll know how to put a smile on your face.
*Disclaimer: setting this up is going to be stressful.
… But remember to disconnect
You’ve done an incredible, brave thing by moving away – remember to spend time experiencing it. Spending too much time on the phone to the people at home will stop you from building a life for yourself at uni.
By all means send a text when you pass your first assignment, or get ready for a night out while chatting to your friends on Skype, but if you’re starting to miss out on university life because you can’t let go of home, you’re going to distance yourself from your new friends and miss your old ones even more.
3. Get into a new routine…
If you’re a creature of habit, you won’t feel truly at home until you’ve nailed down a daily or weekly routine. Putting a bit of structure into your day-to-day uni life will help you to manage your time so you can feel like you’re conquering student life.
Keeping track of your timetable and setting aside time for socialising, studying and chilling out will minimise stress when things get hectic. Being organised will also keep you busy enough that the weeks will fly by and your next trip home will be around the corner before you know it.
… But keep old habits
University is all about new experiences, and you should grab every opportunity with both hands… Or so everyone keeps telling you. If you’re starting to get overwhelmed by all the new and exciting things you’re doing, it’s okay to take a step back.
Building your old habits into your new routine can help tackle homesickness, as it’ll give you a sense of normality amidst the madness. Whether it’s reading before bed, a treat-yourself trip to the hairdressers, or a bit of Come Dine With Me on a Sunday afternoon, there’s no reason you can’t keep up your old routines at university.
4. Write it down…
Need to have a rant about your messy flatmate? Wishing you could take the dog for a walk? When your mind is working overload, putting your thoughts down on paper can help you see things more clearly. What may seem like a small change can make a huge difference by giving you a little perspective over what’s causing you to feel stressed out.
… But make sure you talk to someone
Sometimes it takes a real shoulder to cry on to really get things off your chest. Whether you talk to your housemates, your family, or even one of your uni lecturers, speaking out when you’re struggling will help you build a support network of people who are there to help you out.
If something is really bothering you, take the first step towards making things better: seek help. There are plenty of things to stress about at uni, and not talking about your worries can quickly build up and become overwhelming. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself, and find someone else to look out for you too.
5. Make yourself at home…
Plenty of students see university as a chance to reinvent themselves or wholly be themselves like they might not have felt able to before. Bring your personality with you to university! Deck your room with fairy lights, posters, photos and whatever else makes you feel like you.
Creating your own space will give you somewhere familiar to power down and get some breathing room. You’ve also given yourself some great talking points when your housemates come over for a nosy.
… But step out of your comfort zone
You’ve probably guessed by now, but university is all about pushing boundaries. You’ve already made the leap of leaving home, now you get to embrace other new and exciting experiences that come your way.
University isn’t supposed to feel just like home, and it’s okay to miss your creature comforts, to call home and ask to speak to the dog, and to spend a portion of your student loan on train tickets home. Just remember to make another home for yourself, with new friends, hobbies and a blank canvas of a bedroom to make your own.