Recent research shows that it can take up to six months to settle in at university. Most people will find the first few weeks pass in the whirlwind of excitement, with Freshers’ week, signing up for classes and registration keeping people busy. As the days get shorter and the deadline to the first essay due dates draw closer it can make you long for a simpler life where somebody cooked your meals and made sure that you did your homework.
Here are seven easy ways to help you cope with homesickness when you are at university.
Create your own space
When you first arrive in halls the space can seem a little devoid of personality. It’s usually a great blank canvas for you to put your mark on. So make sure that you’ve packed all the things that you really love, like your favourite duvet set, lamps and even ornaments. Making the place feel like home can stop you from feeling like you are missing home.
One of the easiest things to pack are photographs of your family and friends. Stick these on your wall and you will be reminded of their friendly faces, but without the annoying nagging about cleaning your room.
University relies on you to manage your own time and studies, and it’s a lot less rigid than school. This means you have more time to play with, but it’s important to use this wisely rather than sitting around moping.
Try to get into a routine, spending some time at the library, joining a society or sports team and making regular social meet-ups such as coffee with friends or a weekly cinema trip. A part-time job is another great way to fill your time.
The answer to homesickness is often to reach for a large packet of crisps or a bar of chocolate, or even to make the most of the great value drinks at the student union bar. But if you get sick, things only get harder. Make sure that you eat enough fruit and vegetables, get enough sleep and drink enough water.
As well as helping you to beat the first-term flu, it can also help you feel positive, more energetic and improve your concentration. Your parents will also worry less if they know that you are looking after yourself.
It’s not easy to stay positive, but try as much as you can. Focus on the reasons that you decided to come to university, and the great things that you can get involved with. At the end of each day think about three things that you think went really well, perhaps you met a really nice person, got your assessment in a day early, or even mastered spaghetti Bolognese like mum makes at home.
Invite people to stay
Most parents will be very keen to come and explore your university town once you have settled in, so be sure to invite them for the weekend and show them around. They’ll probably be thinking that you won’t want them there to stifle your independence.
You might be tempted to go home all the time, but that means missing out on all the great things that happen around the weekends. As well as inviting family, get in touch with friends and invite them up too. They can help you explore a bit further.
Book a trip home
The first term might feel really long, and you don’t want to miss out on too much but you’re hankering for home cooking and a hug with your favourite family pet. Plan it for around the half-way point, so you’ve got something to look forward to.
A weekend away can be just the thing to tide you over until the Christmas vacation, or you might realise that now all your friends have left too being at home isn’t really the same. If you haven’t got the funds to book a trip home then schedule weekly skype chats will enable you to see your friends and family.
Get in touch with university services
You might feel like you can’t talk to your friends, or when you ask them, they might not be feeling homesick. That doesn’t mean that it’s not a totally normal feeling, and most people experience it at some point during their university life.
Student support services are there to help you out with things like this, and they can offer everything from counselling to buddy systems or even tell you about activities you could get involved with to ensure that you don’t feel down.
The first time you leave home is always going to be hard, as it’s such a big change. Learning to adapt and keep busy will not only make your time at university go well, but also help you make the most of opportunities during your career.