Homesickness

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Moving away to university is a big step for anyone and it’s not unusual to feel homesick. For many, it is the first time leaving the home environment - including friends, family and familiar places.

Many students find this time to be exciting and stimulating – an opportunity for change and growth; but for others it may not have the same effect.

What is homesickness?

Homesickness occurs during a time of change and is a natural response to loss and adjustment. It can cause feelings of stress or anxiety, caused by the separation from people and places that you know.

Symptoms might include:

  • Preoccupied thoughts of home
  • Feelings of grief, depression and anxiety
  • Feeling isolated, lonely or withdrawn
  • Loss of confidence
  • Lack of concentration
  • Disturbed sleep

Homesickness occurs most frequently at the start of the academic year. It is usually a short-term issue and when recognised can be overcome.

Remember what you are feeling is normal

It’s important to remember that the time taken to settle in and the degree of difficulty we experience in adapting to our new environment is different for each person. Homesickness is something that most people experience at some point in their life – and it’s not uncommon to have these feelings while at university.

Don’t spend too much time in your room

As tempting as it is to stay in your room this will only increase your anxiety and feelings of isolation. Get used to your new surroundings and explore the university and your new environment – it will soon start to feel like home.

Go for walks, do some sightseeing, volunteer or join a club – getting involved with new activities will also help distract you from your feelings of homesickness.

Keep in touch (but not too much)

Keeping in touch with family and friends can help you feel supported and connected, which is important for adjusting to a new place. Bear in mind that, equally, too much contact can make you feel more homesick and add to those feelings.

One of the most reliable ways to beat homesickness is to immerse yourself in university life, even if this may feel daunting at first. Put yourself into situations where you’ll meet new people, especially if you have similar interests.

Bring some home comforts with you

It really doesn’t matter what you bring but having familiar things from home can help ease your feelings of homesickness. Things with sentimental value, such as photos of family or something that has meaning to you, like a toy or a blanket, can help you feel connected to home even when you’re away.

Take care of yourself

Keep up your fitness routine or start a new one – getting active will help you to feel more positive about university life and the new people you are meeting.

Creating a routine for yourself that is realistic will make you feel more positive and motivated. Going to bed at the same time each night will help your internal body clock get accustomed to a new bedtime, which in turn will help you fall asleep better at night and wake up more easily each morning.

Eating your favourite foods from home can also help make you feel happier and more secure in your new environment and introducing them to new friends is a fun way to get to know one another.

Ask for help

The most important thing to remember is that homesickness – missing the familiarity and comfort of your home – is entirely normal. It might be hard to believe, but there will be many students experiencing the same thing.

If you are struggling with homesickness, don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings. The University has a number of Support Services that are dedicated to making sure that every student gets the support they need.

Wellbeing Workshops and Courses

The University runs a range of one-off events, multi-session courses and regular group meetings related to health and wellbeing.

External Resources 

Student Minds – Starting University

Host – Coping with homesickness as a student

Prospects – What to do when you feel homesick

BBC – Feeling homesick? Try these tricks

NHS – Student Mental Health


#Counselling #Mental_Health #unilife #Wellbeing