So you’ve moved in your new university accommodation and enjoyed Freshers’ week. Some of you may have been to course inductions and second and third years may already know what they’re doing for the new university year. However, settling into a new place isn’t always easy. Even second-year students can have difficulties adapting to a house off campus, living with a group of people who may like to do things a bit differently to what they’re used to.
Beginning life at university will naturally generate both excitement and anxiety in everyone. There will be new places, new academic work, new people and new experiences. Some will quickly overcome these feelings and get settled in, but others will take longer to adapt and will probably experience what is called homesickness, a preoccupation with home-focussed thoughts.
You will find yourself in adult situations where you may not have been before, having to think about money, laundry and cooking, going to courses and studying and mostly starting a new life by yourself. Second-year and third-year students are not immune just because they have successfully experienced leaving home before either. There will always be factors that will make you want the security and confidence you felt when you were at home. University is all about growing up; it’s a big transition, and it can take you a while to adjust.
Here are a few tips on how to get your homesickness under control:
- Get out of your room
Sitting in your room all day and feeling sorry for yourself will not make things easier for you. You need to get out and experience the new place you’re in: meet new people, find new opportunities to socialise, take up a sport, join a club or society, go to every induction activity that you can, check out the university’s social calendar and why not try to get a part-time job? You won’t even have time to think about missing home, right?
- Eat, drink, be merry, and rest
During freshers’ week, you can easily fall off the rails of a healthy life with all of the partying and social events. Remember to put down those comfort foods and try to keep a healthy and balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and protein. Get plenty of sleep and try to drink as much water as you can. It’s important to stay healthy as this will keep your energy levels up, improve your concentration and it will help you avoid other illnesses that will easily get you down and make you yearn for the comfort of your home.
- Stay in touch with people at home
Going to university does not mean that you have to cut off means of communication with your family and friends. Speaking to someone you feel close to can be an instant pick-me-up, so make sure you stay in touch with friends and family back home. Phones, Skype and instant messaging make everything easier and if you’re an old-school kind of person, every university has got a post office from which you can send plenty of letters and postcards to your loved ones. Try not to keep your homesickness a secret as everyone has gone through this at least once in their life – sharing any problems will help you start feeling better and having a different view on them.
- Make use of student support services
Every university offers support services for their students. Homesickness is completely normal and universities are experienced in helping students settle in. If you’re really struggling, please don’t ignore it because it can have an impact on your confidence and mental health. Don’t be afraid to make use of your university’s student support services as they may offer counselling services, student mentoring programs, or be able to offer suggestions on activities you could get involved with to start you feeling more at home.
- Don’t panic
Don’t think that your homesickness will be the bane of your student life. Let things follow their course, go out and meet new people and be positive about your new experiences. Chances are everyone is feeling as scared and homesick as you are! I’ve known people to take months before they settled down, yet had the best time of their life since then. As they say, patience is a virtue!