No matter how excited you are about finally being at university and flatting with your friends, chances are you will feel homesick at some point. Even the most independent and confident of us, will miss our family, friends, familiar surroundings or favourite food while adjusting to our new life.
This is entirely normal and indeed healthy to feel a deep connection to home. It is also something you can deal with successfully if you have the right strategies. Here are five of them that will help you reduce homesickness and enjoy the exciting new chapter in your life.
1. Surround yourself with some familiar things
Having things in your flat that remind you of home can create a sense of comfort and familiarity. This can include photos, decorations, your favourite sheets or music. Make sure that for each familiar item you have at least one new one that is unique to your university life, perhaps a photo of your new flatmates. This will allow you to slowly become comfortable with your new surroundings while keeping a piece of home.
2. Create a list of the things you miss and do some of those
Research shows that doing things you love make you feel comfortable, confident and happy. Creating a list of all those things, especially those you miss the most, will bring clarity to your emotions and allow you to engage in what you love even miles away from home. This can include anything from eating your favourite food, to doing the sport you miss or the events you haven’t attended in a while. This is most effective if you leave room on your list for those things you’ve always wanted to do at university, those things you only get to do while studying and flatting. Go do those things, you might just discover something entirely new about yourself.
3. Talk to the people you miss at home, but not too much
Talking to people you miss can make you feel connected and part of each other’s lives despite the distance. You experience a sense of support and love which is essential for adjustment. However, becoming too reliant on this strategy can have the reverse effect by making you even more homesick. Therefore, follow the double-rule and speak to and connect with other students twice as much as you speak to family and friends back home. Soon you will build strong relationships, which often last a lifetime, according to research.
4. Talk about it
Contrary to the myth that talking about homesickness makes it worse, research has shown that talking about your feelings (of any kind!) helps you process your thoughts, clarify your feelings and feel better. Someone who listens to you while you get it all off your chest can make a real difference. Talking about feelings works miracles for people every day. And chances are, whoever you speak to will have experienced homesickness as well.
5. Make the most of university life and meet new people
While this can be the hardest step when feeling homesick and all you want to do is curl up in bed with a tub of ice cream, it is also the most important strategy. Talk to your flatmates or classmates about what they are doing and find out out what sports, activities or events are happening on campus. University life is unique and a once in a lifetime experience. Getting busy, making the most of it and meeting new people will quickly take your mind off home. It will also strengthen your confidence and sense of independence.
Start today or share this with someone who needs it, it will make a big difference. And always remember, you are not alone. Homesickness affects all of us, no matter matter how long we’ve been away from home.