The prospect of university brings so much to get excited about, but no matter how enthusiastic you are about becoming an independent adult and heading off to uni, sometimes you can’t help but miss home just a little. Leaving home and moving away for university is a huge transition no matter where you’re coming from, some who might live around the corner and others who are an eleven-hour plane ride from everything they know. The key to remember though is if you’re suffering from homesickness, I can guarantee you’re not the only one.
Even the most independent of us all feel homesick sometimes – it’s completely natural! Especially in the first few months of university, when everything is new and unfamiliar, and you haven’t quite gotten into the routine of your new life, feeling homesick is normal, and I promise you that almost everyone feels homesick at some point, they just may not show it.
Feeling homesick can be quite challenging to deal with – it makes you feel lonely, and a little bit sad and can often make throwing yourself into all the fantastic opportunities around you a bit of a challenge. It’s all too natural to feel homesick, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from getting every possible bit of fun, joy and opportunity out of your university experience. I haven’t been hit with any huge waves of homesickness yet – don’t misread this! I am still missing home and everyone there a lot. But there are a few ways to deal with it so that it doesn’t turn you into a cave troll never leaving your room or someone who can’t enjoy their time at uni. So today I’m going to go through my top tips that I learnt last year and have gathered from uni friends for getting over homesickness so that all you need to worry about is making the absolute most out of your uni years.
Let yourself be homesick for a little bit.
Probably one of the most important ones on this list, and so deservingly has its spot right at the top, is to let yourself feel homesick when you’re feeling it. Don’t bottle it in! Remember that being human means you come with feelings, and IT IS OKAY TO FEEL!! (you can check out a post I wrote about this here). Feeling homesick isn’t a weakness, and it isn’t something you should punish yourself for so don’t feel like you have to put on a brave face and pretend you aren’t missing things. Let yourself feel homesick for a little – have a cry, get it all out but make sure you limit your wallowing (I’d recommend 24 hours). Then, dry your eyes, grab one of your flatmates (or message one of your new friends) and go out for coffee or a nice slice of cake.
*Covid edition – okay going out to socialise isn’t so easy right now, but there are still options. Maybe your res has got a cafe or a bar you can go to? Or you could even just go on a short walk. Just remember to be safe.
Bring some home comforts with you.
This could be your childhood teddy bear (in my case) or your favourite fluffy blanket, even something as simple as a paperweight – we all have objects that never fail to cheer us up when we’re feeling down so no matter what your comfort items are, be sure to bring them with to university. I’d especially recommend this if you’re studying overseas (or doing a year abroad/taking a gap year) because travelling and being in a foreign country can make homesickness even worse and having those home comforts can seriously help.
Also, don’t be embarrassed or feel worried that you have a stuffed animal or teddy bear on your bed. Way more people have them than you think and will either proudly display them or have them hidden away somewhere, so don’t let that stop you from bringing your cuddly toy.
Keep in touch, but not too much!
Keeping in touch with your friends and family from home is never a bad thing, as it helps you close the gap and still feel involved with everything happening at home (I know that the distance can often make you feel quite disconnected from everything going on). However, and make a note of this, there is such a thing as keeping in touch too much, and that can actually make your homesickness worse. You shouldn’t be talking to people back home more than you’re talking to the people around you, so try to use that as a benchmark if you aren’t sure. Your friends and family aren’t going anywhere – they’ll still be there during holidays, you can always go visit (though wait for at least a few weeks into the term), and they know you’re at uni so try to focus on being present during your uni years.
Explore your new surroundings
A big trigger of homesickness is feeling unfamiliar with our new surroundings. When you aren’t sure where’s what, you often crave that familiarity of home, so a great way to nip that yearning in the bud is to set aside the time to get to know your uni area and before long, you’ll start to feel comfortable and at home. You don’t want to look back on your uni years regretting how little you saw of your home away from home so go for walks, do some sightseeing, volunteer in the community or just take any excuse to get out and figure out where things are. My flatmates and I go on walks to check out the surrounding areas, and already I feel a lot more comfortable and settled, and this is only two weeks in. Don’t miss out on all the fun your uni town has to offer because you didn’t take the chance to get out and explore.
Don’t compare yourself.
Looking at people’s Instagram and Snapchat stories may make university seem like it’s the time of your life filled with nothing but endless wild parties and no responsibilities because you have all the time in the world. I’m not saying that university can’t be the time of your life, and you can’t have wild parties and enjoy the freedom but don’t compare yourself to everyone’s social media and think you’re doing something wrong because you’re not having a good a time as they seem to be having. Social media is superficial – all it’s showing is a snapshot of a moment, and it doesn’t actually indicate whether or not they’re having a good time. So don’t compare yourself to others because everyone is different. Not every day is going to be the best day, but you can still have a phenomenal experience doing things your way, even if it isn’t what everyone else is doing.
Go out and keep busy.
Distractions can be a glorious way to keep the mind from focusing on things like homesickness. Goodness knows it’s tempting to just hide in your room like it’s your cave, but if you spend too much time inside, it will make your homesickness worse. How so? Because isolating yourself makes your feelings more intense, and all that time you’ll sit alone in your room means you’ll spend most of that time thinking about everything you miss from home. So the trick is to then try and keep busy. Go study in the library, organise a trip, go shopping with your flatmates, get a part-time job or join a hundred clubs and societies – the more things you throw yourself into, the less time you’ll have to feel homesick, and before you know it, you’ll feel settled in and comfortable in your new uni life.
Avoid social media
Like I mentioned earlier, social media is superficial and can do more damage than good because you end up comparing yourself to everyone else and thinking that you’re not having as great a uni experience as them. Or in the homesickness department, missing out on all the things at home that you could be joining if you were there. Constantly checking social media to see what all your friends at home were up to will do more harm than good, so limit your social media time and turn off notifications. That way, you’re not distracted by home memories when you’ve found something to cheer you up.
I can imagine my dad smiling as I write this. When you’re feeling down, what’s the one thing we all turn to as the first point of comfort, whether it’s because we’ve had a breakup, a horrible experience or just a bad day? That’s right, cuddling up on your bed with a stack of romcoms, a ginormous tub of ice cream and sniffing your way through at least two boxes of tissues. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this method does not work for homesickness (unless you do it with your flatmates as a bonding exercise and remove the sniffling through tissues) and will actually just make it worse. Staying active is not only good for your health but will also help you feel much more positive so try fit in a session at least 3 times a week.
Would anyone like to see a post about fitting in exercise with university life? Or low-cost fitness ideas at uni so you can still get your gym in without spending hundreds on a membership? Let me know in the comments section!
Plan something nice for yourself every day
As we all know, staying positive is so much easier said than done, but you can certainly make an effort to maintain a positive attitude, which will help you beat off any waves of homesickness in a major way. Make a point of fitting something into your day that you enjoy and can look forward to – it could be going out for a drink with your friends, a nice hot bath (okay not very realistic with student accommodation), or catching up on a few episodes in your favourite series. Staying positive also works like a magnet as it makes you a joy to be around. So you’ll find it easier to make friends which in turn, helps keep away any feelings of homesickness.
Ask for help
However, if you are struggling, don’t think that this means you can’t tell people you’re missing home or unhappy because friends and professionals are always around to help you. You aren’t in this alone. The transition from high school to university is more like trying to leap across a canyon than a crack in the road, and it can all be very overwhelming – remember there is no shame in asking for help. Don’t suffer in silence. If you’re having issues with your course, or anything else, approach your lecturers, or welfare officers or university counselling services. Your mental health is important, and if you are feeling unhappy, there will definitely be someone who can help you and try and make things easier for you if you ask for the help you need.
And there you have it! Homesickness isn’t like freshers flu (although in some cases it is in that almost all of us get it) and there is nothing wrong with missing your friends, family and familiar comforts, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying every aspect of university life. You’re on an adventure and now’s the time to enjoy it – the only thing you should be stressing about is the reading you didn’t do for that seminar or the registration form you forgot to fill out for a society. For any of you reading this who may be feeling homesick, I hope this has helped you a little and please remember, you aren’t alone! Also if you’re reading this and know a friend at uni who may be feeling homesick, reach out to them and share this post.
Thank you all so much for reading – if you enjoyed the post, please don’t forget to like, comment, subscribe and share with your friends!! Lastly, have I missed any tips for dealing with homesickness? Was there ever a time you felt homesick, and how did you deal with it?? Let’s chat in the comments section!
Lots of love
Blondey on a Mission xxx