The excitement of moving to university has settled down and the dreaded homesickness sinks in, what do you do?
1. Homesickness can be Reduced if you Talk to Your Flatmates Before You Go To University
You can attempt to mitigate the impact of homesickness if you start talking to your flatmates before going to university. The move is less daunting if you speak to the people you are going to be living with and get to know them. Right from the start you are familiarising yourself with your new surroundings which can reduce homesickness.
Many universities have groups on Facebook where you can find your flatmates or people on your course. Before university I had found all my flatmates through a Facebook group that the university had set up. This meant we could all talk about moving to university and how we were feeling. It made the move far less daunting as I knew who I was going to be living with. We could all share the worries we were having and get to know each other.
This enables you to start to get to know your new surroundings. This means you are not completely thrown into a new place.
2. Knowing You Are Not Alone can help homesickness
Do not feel like you are alone and the only one feeling the way you do, this is a big mistake to make and can often make you feel worse. Everyone is in the same boat and feeling the same way and it is important to know that.
On the first day when all my flatmates were moving in and we did not really know each other, one of my flatmates burst into tears due to homesickness. Everyone was very understanding and tried to cheer them up. You should not feel like you are the only one that feels the way you do because most people at some point will suffer from homesickness.
3. Reach Out and Talk To People about homesickness
Talk to people about how you are feeling. It might be hard to open up to a bunch of strangers about how homesick you are but trust me it helps, and almost every time, they will feel the same way.
But what about the people out clubbing every night with their friends living their best life on social media?
Even they feel homesick. It is very normal and will almost certainly affect everyone in one way or another. One of my flatmates went out clubbing every night of freshers having the best time with friends but even they were struggling. They came and spoke to me about how homesick they were feeling. It really does affect almost everyone so if you speak to people they will understand, and it will make you feel so much better. Even if you do not feel you can talk to your flatmates or friends at university, speak to someone at home and tell them how you are feeling.
By talking to people, you are not only helping yourself, you are helping other people that may not know how to talk about homesickness. They too may feel too embarrassed or like they are the only one feeling that way.
4. Do Not Isolate Yourself
When you first move in, it is very tempting to just isolate yourself and hide in your room. You may have just travelled for 6 hours (or more) and just want to be by yourself and not have to socialise with a load of strangers you do not know, but this is the worst thing you can do.
Bring a doorstop to hold your door open. It allows people to say hello when they walk past and allows the opportunity to make friends and plans so you are not on your own thinking about home.
Arrange to do something as a flat on the first night as your flatmates are likely to be your first friends when you move to university. Make a group chat for the flat if you have not already as it makes planning a lot easier!
On the first day when all my flatmates were moving in we all sat in the kitchen and played cards and then in the evening we all went out for a drink to get to know each other. I highly recommend sitting in social areas, such as the kitchen, when you first move in as you are more likely to speak to people.
Make sure you break the ice early on as it is much harder to break the ice later on. Make the effort right from the beginning as it means you will have people around you that you can talk to that will help your homesickness.
5. Join a Society
Get involved and join clubs and societies. This is another opportunity to build your network and build your second home. There are always lots of events going on in freshers to enable you to make friends.
If you do not like drinking (like me), there are special non-drinking events that happen. You may be surprised at how many people do not want to drink. There really is something for everyone so you will be able to find a group of people that suit you. Having a strong network at university will help with homesickness as it gives you people to talk to and you won’t feel so alone.
6. Bringing Things You Associate with Home Helps Homesickness
This can help homesickness as it is like you are bringing a piece of home with you. I brought my teddy bear with me. I was so anxious to bring my teddy bear in case people would laugh at me, but they didn’t and almost everyone has a teddy bear. One of my flatmates brought a giant teddy bear and it comes out whenever someone is upset.
I would definitely recommend bringing something that reminds you of home, like a teddy or pictures or your favourite bedding. This means you are not totally thrown into an unknown environment. However, I would make sure that you do not bring too much stuff that it will make you miss home more!
7. Decorate Your Room
Decorate your room so that you feel more comfortable in it. Put things on your wall so that it is cosier and not so boxy.
HOT TIP: Many universities do not like you putting things on the walls because of the marks it leaves. However, if you use Command strips you can put things on your walls without leaving any marks. They are a must for university!
I have a big tapestry on my wall which breaks my room up a bit, so it feels homelier. Bring fairy lights or mood lamps to make your room feel cosy and comfortable. If you are sitting in an industrial room with nothing on your walls it is not going to feel like home. Be pro-active and make university your home. A nice room will definitely help with homesickness. Check out my blog post ‘University Tag’ to see how I decorated my room!
8. Stay in Contact with Home
It is good to stay in contact with home via video call, text or social media. Although you are in a new place it does not mean that everyone at home has suddenly disappeared. Tell them how you feel but make sure you do not make it worse for yourself by phoning home. Sometimes phoning home can make the homesickness worse, it really just depends what works for you. If it helps, then call home and speak to people. If it makes it worse, stay in contact via text for the first few weeks until you have settled in.
9. Student Mentors
I had the opportunity to have an older student that acted as my ‘mentor’. If you get this opportunity I would highly recommend it. I was sceptical at first, but it put my mind at ease as I knew at least one person going into university and if I had any questions I could go to them.
I was in contact with my mentor before I even left for university. This meant that I could ask questions about where I was living and about the course. This makes things easier as you can be more prepared. Mentors can also point you in the right direction if you are feeling homesick and you need to talk to someone.
10. Stick it Out!
It does get better and a lot easier! I would suggest not going home for the first 2 or 3 weeks unless you need to or feel it is best. When you are homesick all you want to do is go home. However, sometimes that is not the best thing as when you go home, it will only make you feel more homesick when you have to come back.
The first 2 or 3 weeks are definitely the hardest, but it is important to remember that you are not alone and it does get better!
11. Get Help
If you are struggling and you feel you cannot cope, it is very important that you reach out and get help. There is lots of help available and it will make you feel much better if you reach out, even if you feel slightly nervous to do so.
Don’t suffer in silence!