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What to do when you’re missing home

Feeling fragile? Find the best strategies to healthily manage homesickness at university.

No one wants to feel homesick. It’s a feeling that can pull you away from making new friends and make it more difficult to complete your studies.

Don’t be ashamed of homesickness—you’re not alone. Many students, especially first years, feel this way. Many students don’t do anything about it, but you can.

  • Acknowledge your feelings. The transition to university is a challenging process, one that is best shared. Homesickness is a common response, and you are in no way the only one to feel this way. Common symptoms of homesickness are feelings of anxiety, isolation, loneliness, sadness and yearning for home. Even if others aren’t showing it, most students face separation anxiety at some point in their studies. These feelings are natural and allowed, so don’t give yourself a hard time for feeling the way you do.
  • Talk about it. Now that you’ve accepted homesickness as normal, find someone that you feel comfortable discussing your feelings. It might be useful to find someone who may be feeling the same way as you or someone who’s been through a similar change. He or she could tell you how they dealt with it or may be able to alleviate some of your fears. Be patient. Consider talking to a professional at your student counselling centre or a lecturer or your GP. They are there to help students and will keep your information confidential.
  • Establish a routine. A set schedule will help make your new surroundings feel like home. Go to dinner once a week with friends, watch the news every day before class, or go for a run at the same time in the evenings a couple of times a week. This will give your days structure and help you feel more comfortable.
  • Take care of yourself. Make sure you look after number one by getting enough sleep and eating a healthy, balanced diet. When you are physically well it’s a lot easier to feel emotionally well.
  • Join an organisation. The more involved you get with campus life, the more friends you’ll make. Time will pass quicker and you’ll find yourself feeling more positive as you become acquainted with new people and interests.
  • Get to know your new environment. It’s important to become familiar with where you now live. Walk around campus and the surrounding area and discover what’s new and interesting. It’s probably a good idea to avoid going home unless absolutely necessary. Weekends are a great opportunity to explore new areas with your new buddies. While your family and hometown friends provide support, it’s likely you’ll develop a new support system at university if you give it time.

Many of us will feel a strong connection to the place where we were born or where we call home. At times, like when we move away to university, we may feel distressed that we can’t physically go back to this place of security and comfort.

However, once you start to accustom yourself to your new surroundings, exploring new places and meeting new people can be really rewarding and completely possible if you give it enough time. So, relax, don’t be too hard on yourself and go and have fun.

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