Tips & tricks to help combatting homesickness
Homesickness is something that most people will struggle with the entire way through
university. No matter how great university is, how lovely your flatmates are, what a great
time you’re having, nothing quite feels as safe as going home for a few days, sleeping in
your own bed, and being looked after by your family.
The first semester is normally the hardest. You may have just spent summer at home or
having the freedom to go back and forth between home and university and now the
freedom has been taken away from you with the start of the new year.
One of the things that got me through the most difficult times at the beginning of first year
was having a date set to go home. I made mine around four to six weeks into the semester,
giving myself enough time to settle it and give it a proper go and let the feelings of
homesickness settle. Having this set date gave me something to look forward to when things
got rough. It meant I couldn’t go home any sooner- as I’d already booked and paid for my
trip home. I relished my time at home even more as I’d waited longer. My parents
encouraged me to wait as long as possible before coming home, insisting I give university a
‘proper go’. I knew the feeling of homesickness wouldn’t last forever, or be as intense, I just
needed to get through the first few weeks.
Another tip of mine is just to keep yourself as busy as possible. Without burning myself out,
I kept myself occupied. I planned things with my friends, studied, worked at my part-time
job. The free time I did have I’d use to speak to my friends and family from home, be it with
a simple phone call or Facetime call. Becoming wrapped up in life at university left me very
little time to sit and be sad about missing home.
Understanding that homesickness is a natural emotion and that you’re being completely
rational with the way that you feel will help you deal with the emotions better. Personally, I
always got annoyed at myself for ‘crying over nothing’, until I realised that I was being
completely rational. I’d moved to a new city, hours from home, virtually knowing no one
and having to take on a new academic challenge all at once; having a little cry every once in
a while, was a perfectly normal way of coping with it.
Something else I picked up on was how much home comforts helped. Having a meal that
you’re used to having at home was unexpectedly helpful. If I’d had a tough day at university,
if I was cold, if I was missing home a little extra, I’d cook a meal that reminded me of home;
normally a Spaghetti Bolognese with some garlic bread. It was something so small but in the
toughest days, it was something to look forward to and massively helped. If the food you’d
eat at home won’t make you feel better, any home comforts will do. Whether you use the
same fabric softener so your clothes smell the same, use the same bedding you would’ve at
home, decorations from your room at home, whatever works best for you.
Most importantly, remember that homesickness is not something that will go away
overnight. However you decide to deal with it, it’ll take some time and getting used to
university will help.