Tips for dealing with Homesickness

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Starting my first year of university in September was hugely daunting for me, and as I've said in a previous blog post, I struggled a lot with homesickness. So coming towards the end of my first year, I thought I'd share my top tips for dealing with missing home; although I'm scared I'll still face homesickness in my second year, and I still can't see myself going weeks at a time without seeing my family - I'm trying to feel positive that even if it takes a trip home every weekend, I'll be able to do it; with the support of my family and friends (from home and uni).

My first tip is to surround yourself with people. I was constantly (and still do) sitting in my flatmates rooms and having a chat with them; or if they were busy I'd go to uni instead and sit in the cafeteria or library until someone was around that I could hang out with or I had a lecture. As time progressed I also discovered keeping in contact with my family a lot and my friends from home made me feel a lot less lonely. Even if I was just texting a friend from home or one of my sisters. I also found face time really handy. I'm quite lucky that one of my sisters is home a lot so the first thing I do, even now, is call or face time her as soon as I wake up in the morning. It might sound excessive to some people but for me, it works. I'm use to being surrounded by people and noise at home so to go from that to silence (most of the time) it was a big adjustment - especially at first anyway. Thus, having a bit of company when I'm doing my make up or having my breakfast helped a lot more than you'd ever think it would. Some people say you need to cut yourself off from your family for a week or so, so you can adjust to not speaking or seeing them everyday, but honestly at that point, I couldn't think of anything worse than not speaking to my family for a week; knowing I was able to speak to them everyday helped me a lot more than cutting them off ever would've.

My second tip is to go and explore this new place that you're lucky enough to now live in. I admit I didn't do enough of this when I moved away, mostly because I got it into my head that I absolutely hated where I'd decided to go to uni (and to be honest I still struggle with the place now). But I really feel this is a good idea. It can be scary exploring alone at first so drag along one of your course mates or flat mates and find some new things to do - some restaurants you could go out to eat one night, some cute cafes for lunch, a pretty park you could have a wander about in, the main social areas - bars, clubs, the cinema, bowling - the list goes on. Find a few things that perhaps you do at home with your family and could do with your roommates too - it could be something new for them to experience. We have a range of dessert shops that me and my friends love visiting when I'm at uni - we don't go there REALLY often but it's something we enjoy doing together. We go out for food or drinks quite a lot or in my first semester we had "take out Mondays" little group things like that, that seem small, really made a huge difference to helping me get through our first semester.

My third tip is to give yourself time. If you're feeling homesick that's probably the last thing in the world you want to hear; I wanted to be ok straight away and just get on with my uni life rather than missing home and feeling sad and down. But realistically that's not going to happen. I constantly got told to give myself till Christmas which felt like, honest to God, years away, rather than a couple of months. So I know me saying "give yourself time" is probably making you feel worse than better but honestly, it's the best thing you could give yourself right now. Through all the things you're probably feeling right now, you need to allow yourself time to adjust to this new place and the new people around you. You need to get yourself into a new routine and try to stick to it. Once you start lectures it's a lot easier as you already have a set routine that you have to stick to regardless. Even if you want to give up immediately as I did, don't take the decision lightly. Speak to the support centre at your uni or students union, they'll have more information they can give you on your options. Also talk to your parents and siblings or even friends who are at uni or have just moved to uni; there's loads of people around that can give you advice and support you through the decision you have to make. Think about the future too; you don't want to look back and regret your decision and wish you'd stayed to give it more of a chance. But saying that, your priority is making sure you are happy. Honestly, at the start of the year I felt like I was going to make myself seriously ill by continuing my time away from home. But by talking to the student union and my parents we managed to find a solution and from then on something clicked in me and I began to enjoy my time more. Obviously University isn't for everyone, and if you feel like there's no light at the end of the tunnel then do consider your options to move back home or do something else. University isn't for everyone and even if your new flatmates are coping just fine that doesn't mean it's not ok to feel the way you're feeling. It's perfectly legible to feel homesick more people than you think are going through it or have been through it.

I was very, very, lucky to only have to spend a few days at uni each week. My lectures were on 3 consistent days so I managed to spend the rest of my time at home as I only live an hours train ride away. I honestly don't think I would've managed to cope until (even) Christmas at uni if I didn't get to go home every few days. You know I was saying about that solution that made me start to enjoy uni more? Well that was it - spending 3 days away at uni and the rest of the time at home. I know most people aren't lucky enough to be able to do that. And some people may think it's caused more damage than good - I mean how will I adjust when I can't go home all the time next year - right? Well I'll just cross that bridge when I come to it. And I do still have my worries for next year, but I'm sure living with all the people I want to live with, will help greatly. My main advice is to just appreciate the time you do get to spend with your family and friends when you visit home - that's the best thing you can do.

I hope some of these things help you if you are struggling with homesickness. I am always around to talk to, as someone who can understand how you're feeling and what you're going through. But remember your friends, family and uni are there to talk to as well. Everyone just wants to support and help you through your time at University, and try to make it enjoyable for you.

Googling homesickness brings up so many results, and I hugely recommend reading up on how other people have dealt with home sickness, some ideas may work for you and some may not but it's definitely worth it, and if anything it helped me feel less alone whilst I was experiencing it.

If you ever want to chat check out my Contact page or my main social media links are:

Twitter: @Alicestephens_
Facebook: MiniStephens
Email: alicemstephens97@gmail.com

"Do something today that your future self will thank you for"

Until next time,

Alice x

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