Coping with Homesickness

Moving away from home as a first time university student can be an exciting and challenging prospect. Transitioning from home to university life can present various emotional hurdles, and homesickness is incredibly common.

Homesickness is usually seen as a longing or nostalgia for the familiarity and comfort of your previous home, social and learning environment. Whilst homesickness can feel terrible and may seem like it will last forever, the vast majority of students do manage to settle into their new environment and enjoy their time away from home.

Understanding Homesickness

Homesickness is a very natural emotional response when students are separated from their familiar environment of their homes. It can feel different to everybody, but commonly manifests as loneliness, sadness or anxiety, as well as other physical symptoms such as loss of appetite, trouble sleeping or lack of motivation to participate in things that would normally make you happy. It is important to remember that this is a common experience, and many other students around will be going through similar emotions.

Coping with Homesickness

If you do find yourself feeing homesick once you have arrived at university, remember that these feelings are temporary and manageable. Here are few common tips for coping with the feelings of homesickness:

  • Stay connected: maintain regular communication with your family and friends back home. This can be done through phone calls, video chats or social media. Sharing your new experiences and staying connected with your loved ones can provide comfort and support when you need it most.
  • Establish a routine: creating routines can give you a feeling of structure in your new environment. Engaging in activities like joining clubs or participating in sports can help to distract you from feeling homesick.
  • Seek social support: reaching out to your peers and fellow students will help you to start building new friendships, which will in turn make you feel that this new environment is more comfortable. Universities often organise plenty of social events, such as freshers fairs, that provide new students opportunities to meet new people with similar interests, reducing the feeling of isolation.
  • Explore campus resources: universities are all to familiar with the challenges of homesickness, and will be expecting that many students will find being separated from their home environment challenging. Most universities provide a range of support services, such as counselling, mentors and welfare teams. Taking advantage of of these resources could help students to navigate the emotional challenges of university life.

University Support for Homesick Students

Universities recognise the significance of addressing homesickness, and offer various avenues of support to help students adapt to their new environment:

  • Student counselling services: universities often offer dedicated counselling services where trained professionals can provide confidential support and guidance to students. These services could include individual counselling sessions, group therapy or workshops.
  • Peer mentoring: many universities have peer mentoring programs where older students or trained mentors can provide advice, guidance and a friendly ear to incoming students. New students can take advantage of any tips and tricks offered by these mentors.
  • Accommodation support: living arrangements can play an important role in a student’s overall wellbeing. There are usually dedicated accommodation teams that can deal with any concerns you have around housing, ensuring that there is a comfortable environment for everyone.

When Does Homesickness Subside?

The length of time that homesickness lasts will vary from person to person. For some students, homesickness may fade away very quickly, and for others it may take a little longer. Engaging in activities, making friends and immersing yourself into the university experience can significantly help reduce feelings of homesickness.

It is important to remember that homesickness is a temporary phase, and that your new surroundings will eventually become routine and familiar. However, it is worth being aware that occasional wave of homesickness may resurface, especially breaks or holidays. This does not mean that students have not adjusted to their new environment, and it is perfectly normal and common to experience these emotions.

Whilst homesickness is a common challenge for students across the country, taking the time to understand its nature, employing coping strategies, and utilising the support services that are available to students, this phase can be navigated through. Remember that homesickness will subside with time, and that engaging with the environment and community around you will help you to build a feeling that university is a home away from home.

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