The experience we enjoy at university can vary widely for each of us. From the friendship groups we make, to the time we spend in lectures, it’s fair to say that we all have a unique experience.
No more is this a fact than when discussing the subject of homesickness. While some of us thrive on being away from home for the first time, others find the lack of contact with our family more challenging than any 3000 word essay or high pressure exam.
Fortunately, as with exams and coursework, the good news is there are steps we can take to make our experience away from home a positive one, and reduce those pangs in our heart every time we wake up to realise that we’re not at home in our own beds.
Seek our new friends at university
It’s important to remember that if you’re in halls of residence or other accommodation that has been organised by your university, the chances are your uni has looked at your personal profile and made some attempt to place you in accommodation with like-minded students.
Plus, even if your housemates don’t necessarily share your penchant for free running or early morning swims, they do have one thing in common with you – and that is that they’re probably feeling a little lonely as well, having just been thrust into the same alien environment as yourself.
So don’t delay, rather than just walking past your new housemates with your head down, take some time to get to know them, and before you know it you’ll be making each other feel a lot more at ease about your new accommodation, and the time spent away from family might not seem quite so bad.
This is just an extension of my last point. And the good news is that there’s nowhere better than universities for those looking for something to do. Maybe you want to get fit and spend more time playing your favourite sport. If it’s anything to do with a gym, then your university will almost doubtless have at least one of these on campus. But, if it’s a ball sport, then check out what’s happening in your area – your uni may well have its own footie team, squash club or snooker hall. And if it doesn’t, then somewhere close by will do.
If you love the sound of your own voice, the debating society or university radio might be the activity for you.
Either way, however you like to spend your spare time (heaven forbid you’ll want to use it all for studying), the chances are there’s something for you. And if there isn’t, why not start a club yourself and see if you can get others involved.
A new hobby
I particularly love this idea, as indulging in a new hobby or activity can really be exciting. Having arrived at your new accommodation you may have given up your old part time job, quit hanging out with some old friends, or maybe you’ve just stopped going to a club you were once a member of.
Either way, if you have some free time on your hands, why not try that new hobby you’ve been thinking about for a while? Maybe you want to learn mandarin, or take up mountaineering but have just never had the time. Well, there’s no time like the present and what better way to take your mind off being away from home?
If you love your new hobby you’ll likely start associating it with your new place of residence and in no time it will seem much more like home.
Don’t go home too often
It may be that the university you have moved to is only an hour on the train or a short bus ride away from where you lived. And as such you may find it very tempting to go home every weekend or for long weekends if you don’t have lectures on a Friday or a Monday.
Well, that might not be the best way to get used to being away. Why not make a plan to go home during official holidays and start immersing yourself in the life that uni offers. For most people it can be a very positive experience, and with time the chances are you’ll start to find yourself being far more comfortable with your new surroundings.
Develop a routine
Examined Existence have written an excellent piece on the importance of routines and the theory behind routines works equally as well for students at university. Routines can bring a sense of structure to your life at a time when that may be the one thing that you’re missing.
It’s not just pets and two year olds who benefit from a routine. Adults can have all of the same rewards too, and if you’re feeling homesick soon after you arrive at your new home at university, this could be just thing to get your head in the right place.
When you first arrive at your new home it can seem quite daunting, when really it’s nothing to worry about. However, the one thing that all of these pieces of advice have in common is that they all require a bit of motivation.
And that means you’ll need to get up and get out there, and before you know it you’ll be thinking of it as home and the anxieties that you had suffered from just weeks before will all seem nothing more than a distant memory.
Have fun, and just remember, you’re not alone in your feelings of homesickness. We’ve all been there, and it’s just something that we have to cope with along with everything else as we step into our new adult lives. Good luck, and just keep telling yourself that you will be a far richer and more worldly person for the experience of being away, and that is just as important as any of the education that you receive in your lectures. :)
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