How I dealt with homesickness when starting university.
As a student ambassador one subject that often comes up when I am talking to prospective students and their parents is moving away from home to attend university. I live around 350 miles away from home whilst studying at Falmouth and one big concern for me was whether I would be able to cope with living so far away from my family and friends back in Sheffield. Here is how I dealt with homesickness when I started university.
By doing everything at my own pace
The first night I moved in was an emotional one. My family had driven me down and we had just spent a lovely two days in Cornwall together. My sister who never cries suddenly began crying when she realised I really wasn’t going to go back to the hotel with them that night. That it was time to say goodbye. My parents were being really strong for me but seeing my sister like that was heartbreaking. She gave me this beautiful gift which was a collage of us both together in a transparent block frame with a note on the reverse side. That night I went back to my flat, met my new flatmates and went to my new room.
I could have gone out that night but for me that just wouldn’t have been right. I knew from that night that I would need to go at my own pace in order to settle in right and feel like I belong there. Everyone is different but for me it did take a full day of being on my own in order to mentally settle in and prepare myself for university life.
I also feel that spending some time on your own to unpack and make your room feel like your own is really important. My mission on my first full day was to go to B&Q and get myself a lamp, and doing that felt really therapeutic for me. Adding my own touches to my space really helped shake the alien feeling it was giving me to begin with and made it quickly feel a bit more like home.
By keeping myself busy
If you keep stressing about starting your impending first semester, being independent and missing your family you won’t find your feet as quickly. Easing yourself into university life by attending events and society tasters is something that was really important for me during my first week. I didn’t have many talks or inductions so I did have a lot of free time. I went walking, climbing and seal watching which allowed me to meet new people at my own pace and made sure I was tired at the end of every day. You can look at all the different tasters and events before you get to uni but I do think that researching and planning a timetable when I got there gave me a sense of purpose that I needed straight away in order to get on with things.
Setting times and days to call home
I think the trick to dealing with missing your family is to make sure you aren’t using them as a constant crutch during your first few weeks. This is a great time to embrace independence and find your own strength to cope without them. I found that setting a time and day to call or facetime my family meant it would motivate me to keep going and also meant that I wouldn’t constantly be calling them whenever I missed them.
Everyone responds differently when moving away from home. However do see your experience for the opportunity it is and use moving away temporarily like this to build on your own mental strength and prove to yourself that you can live independently.