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.
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:
Homesickness occurs most frequently at the start of the academic year. It is usually a short-term issue and when recognised can be overcome.
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. Whether you have remained close to your home or have travelled to a new country, no matter the distance, homesickness is completely normal.
Try to 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 or society.
The University has a wide range of digital and on-campus activities dedicated to helping you settle into university life. Getting involved with events and activities may also help distract you from your feelings of homesickness.
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.
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 keepsakes or items of clothing, can help you feel connected to home even when you’re away.
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 sleep schedule, 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.
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.
The University’s Wellbeing Service offer a range of practical support in a confidential, professional setting. 30-minute Wellbeing Advice Appointments are available on campus, by telephone, and Microsoft Teams, and can be booked via Advice Zone Online.
There are lots of things you can try to help your wellbeing. The University runs a range of one-off events and activities and multi-session courses related to health and wellbeing.