Moving to a new country or even a new city can be overwhelming. It’s natural to feel a bit homesick when the initial excitement of London life starts to settle. It might be the first time you’ve spent much time away from home and you’re finding it challenging when it comes to things like cooking for yourself or doing your laundry. Missing your friends and family from home is completely understandable and feeling homesick at university is something that many students experience, especially when moving to a new place that might be culturally different to wherever you move from.
Feeling homesick can affect absolutely anyone, but you’ll be glad to know that it is usually a short-term problem and is very likely to pass within a few weeks. But, there are a few things you can do to help combat it so that it doesn’t affect your studies or the relationships you’re making at uni. If you are feeling homesick at university, have a read through our 6 tips on how to combat homesickness.
Firstly, how to recognise homesickness
It can be easy to confuse things like freshers flu or your major lifestyle changes with homesickness. Here are some of the symptoms of homesickness that you might recognise if you are missing your home and the family and friends you have there. Symptoms include:
- Changes to your mood that include feeling angry, nauseous, nervous or sad
- Feelings of isolation, loneliness or wanting to withdraw from your flatmates or classmates
- Feelings of overwhelm, insecurity or feeling more anxiety than usual
- Feelings of low self-esteem or self-worth
- A disturbed sleeping pattern
- Changes to your appetite
- Difficulty with concentrating.
What to do when feeling homesick at university | 6 tips
Look after yourself – body and mind
Moving to university will probably be the biggest change to your lifestyle you’ll ever experience. It can mean changes to your sleeping pattern, changes to your diet and your lifestyle in general. Your daily routine will probably be a bit all over the place until you get settled into the academic year. All of these mean that your body might be taking a bit of a hit. As well as this, your mental health can be affected by these changes too.
So, take some time to look at your lifestyle and see what you can do to make some improvements. Sleep is probably the most important element of your health and is the backbone of a healthy mind and body. Try to get 6-8 hours every night. Avoid drinking caffeine and especially in the afternoon and evening as this greatly affects the quality of your sleep.
Playing sports or doing exercise that you did when you were at home is a great idea. The routine and familiarity of it will give you some structure, and it will help with regulating your sleeping pattern too. It also gives you the opportunity to meet like-minded people.
Get offline and go explore
In more recent years especially, we are noticing that students are very much relying on their phones for feeling close to home. This is only natural and we completely understand that staying connected with your family and friends from home will be comforting when you’re not feeling great. But, being glued to your social networks can really have a detrimental effect on how well you adjust to university life. If you’re feeling homesick at university, feelings of isolation can keep you locked up safely in your room and staring at your phone all day. It’s a good idea to manage your relationship with home. Regular contact with friends and family is important, but at the same time, you should be giving yourself some time and space to focus on your new life in London. Phone calls or social media messaging all the time might exacerbate your negative feelings.
The best thing you can do is get yourself out and about and interact with people face to face. Try to embrace your brand-new environment that’s waiting to be explored. See if your flatmates want to explore the local area – parks, cafes etc. If there’s no one around to join you, there’s plenty to keep you entertained in the city that won’t cost you anything. At the weekend, you could work your way through all the free museums and art galleries London has to offer. Doing this also gives you lots to talk about with all the new people in your life.
Make a new home with some home comforts
Even if you’re staying in really nice university accommodation, it isn’t always the most homely setting. You’re going to be spending a lot of time there over at least the next academic year – whether that’s studying in your own room or hanging out with your flatmates in the shared living space. So, take some time to make your living space your own – that way, you’ll look forward to getting back after classes and chilling out with your flatmates.
Take a trip to the shops to find some things for your new home – a couple of potted plants or some comfy cushions or throws can really add something to even the most basic student accommodation. Or, get yourself some fairy lights or mood-changing lighting for your room so that it welcomes you when you get in every day – this will be especially welcome when the weather starts to change later on in the term.
Attend any open days
If you haven’t started university yet but you’re worried you might feel homesick when you finally arrive, it’s a really good idea to prepare yourself by going to any open days or offer holder days that your university is offering. It mightn’t always be feasible if you’re living far away, but even online open days will help with feelings of familiarity when you get there.
Having seen the campus, accommodation, facilities etc will mean you have a better idea of where everything is which might help limit those initial emotions of feeling a bit lost. Getting a feel for the area you’ll be staying in will help you get excited about the move. Plus, if you are able to attend an open day or offer holder day in person, you might even meet some of the people you’ll be studying with or living with. A friendly face, when you do start at uni, can only be a good thing.
Don’t beat yourself up about it
Try not to beat yourself up about feeling homesick. At some point, everyone will experience the feeling – it’s completely natural, especially when going through such a huge lifestyle change. There is nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. Leaving home and moving to a new country or city is a big step and you might feel scared as well as excited. So, try not to add to any negative feelings you might be experiencing by being unfairly harsh on yourself.
Talk about it
And finally, you might well find that some of your flatmates or classmates are feeling homesick too – remember that they’re in exactly the same position as you are, so it’s likely that some of them are.
Bottling up your feelings is the worst thing to do. It might be a good idea to open up to a couple of people at uni about how you are feeling and find out how they’re doing too. Simply talking it out with a friend can often make things feel better. And, often people are just waiting for someone to approach them, so try to be brave and be the person to make that first step and kick off a conversation.