Let’s Talk About Homesickness


Being slightly homesick is an inevitable part of uni. For lots of people, freshers’ week signals the first time many people will have lived away from their family, cooking and shopping for themselves – all whilst being in a new city, with new people and a new situation. Taking all this into account, it’s completely understandable that lots of people find this new start overwhelming, making them crave the comfort of home. 

The National Union of Students believes that between 50 and 70% of UK students experience homesickness. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone, and being homesick is an entirely reasonable response to such a big change in your life. I was someone who was terribly homesick, despite Southampton only being 30 minutes from home, and places like West Quay and Bedford Place being familiar to me. I didn’t feel fully settled in at uni for a long time as I kept missing home, made worse by feeling like I was missing out on uni fun because of it. Homesickness is horrible, it can leave you feeling upset and like you want to leave uni. Even when you begin to enjoy it, a nagging sense of homesickness can leave you feeling completely torn between what feels like two lives. But eventually without noticing you will settle in, and although it might not feel like it now, there are ways you can help get yourself there.

An often overlooked way of kicking homesickness into oblivion, is getting a routine. Freshers’ week is a mess of no timetable, late nights, even later lay ins and general spontaneity, so it can be hard at first to get settled. This week can be pretty manic, with everyone feeling unsure of themselves but trying to make friends it can be hard to find your place. Don’t worry, once this week is over everyone becomes a lot more relaxed. Once you’re into lectures it’s much easier to get into a routine, scheduling time for activities/societies, food shopping, or even Skyping your Mum.

By getting a routine, you’ll be keeping yourself busy which is a good way to keep the homesick blues at bay. This can be particularly challenging if you’re studying a course with little contact hours. I found my timetable a shock to the system with barely 7 hours a week and all my lectures starting after 2pm. Whilst this was great for going out it meant I’d spend the majority of thHomesickness1e morning laying in bed feeling homesick, then go to a lecture at 4pm and feel like I hadn’t really achieved anything that day – leading to me wondering if uni was really worth it. A good way to deal with this is by structuring your time, i.e. setting yourself a time to get up, a time to go the gym, a time to cook.

Importantly, try not to distance yourself from other people. If you’re in your room scrolling through Facebook try doing it in the kitchen of your halls where you’ll bump into people as they’re doing their cooking or reading. If you love watching Netflix in your room, do it with the door open so people know you’re in and available to chat. Chatting to your flat mates and doing things together will help you feel a lot less alone, so try and arrange to go to the shops together, or get the bus to campus together so you can have some familiarity.

Similarly, when talking to other people remember they might be feeling homesick too. There is a lot of pressure at uni, especially during those first few weeks to be having the best time of your life, meeting your best friends and loving your lectures. In reality these things might not happen in that way. Uni is great fun, but don’t be surprised if you aren’t having the best time of your life just one week after leaving home, your family, and friends. Under this pressure, lots of people feel the need to conceal their homesickness, which leads to people feeling even more isolated. If you feel desperately isolated from home, tell someone. Feeling homesick can leave you thinking that no one will understand how you feel, because they’re all settling in so well and having such a great time. But you’ll be surprised just how many people are waiting for someone to talk to about it.

Ultimately, if you’re worried that your unhappiness might be something more serious, you should seek help. SUSU runs it’s nightline service, which is a number you can ring to speak to someone confidentially about any worries you might have. You can call them every night during term time, from 8pm-8am on 02380 595 236, or free from halls on 25236.

The most important thing to remember is that homesickness is entirely natural, and you are not strange for missing the familiarity and comfort of your home. Whilst it can be hard to imagine it, so many other people around you will be experiencing the same thing, so talk to someone. Uni will be a fantastic time for you, but please don’t worry if you’re not enjoying it straight away.

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