For many people, going to university for the first time is terrifying. Even more frightening is the prospect of heading to a university in another country for a year alone, having to adjust to the new culture and dynamics whilst also trying to study. It is undoubtedly a challenge to get used to these new surroundings and homesickness can hit like a train.
So how do you handle this horrible feeling of being homesick? Some go with the hard-hearted approach of ‘you’ll get used to it’ whilst others suggest constant phone calls home. These are generally unhelpful so if you want some other suggestions which might help, then have a read of my top tips:
Tip 1: Don’t call home every night
I know this may seem like a good idea. You’re feeling lonely and just want some support from your family and friends so what harm comes from calling home daily? Whilst it is definitely good to keep in touch with people at home to let them know how you’re doing, you don’t want to get used to only being able to cope because you call home. When you eventually settle in and gain confidence and independence you don’t want to be in the habit of only being able to sleep at night having phoned home. It sounds silly to avoid calling home too much but it really can be detrimental if you get used to it.
Tip 2: Don’t stay at home all the time
The feeling of being homesick sometimes forces people to hide in themselves and curl up alone. For me, this always used to be at night when I would start to over think things. To combat this, however, you should really try to keep busy! The logic behinds this comes from giving your mind so much to focus on that it doesn’t have time to worry about missing home and instead you fall asleep from the good kind of tiredness. This also means you get to explore more of the city you’re studying and meet new people, which are two very positive factors.
Tip 3: Find your happy place
If you start to feel the homesickness creeping up on you, try to relax. Meditating, bathing, reading or even watching Netflix are all ways to relax and distract yourself and put your mind into a tranquil state. These are also great tips if you’re having difficulty sleeping. I find meditating with the help of free apps including Headspace leaves me so relaxed that I can effortlessly drift into sleep. For those of you who get homesick at night, which is very common, this can be a godsend. A hot water bottle and some comfort food (maybe a bit of popcorn) can also make you feel a bit better, even just psychologically. Some say lavender is supposed to help you relax and you can buy lavender bags that can be heated in the microwave which might be an idea if you like the smell.
The opportunity to study abroad is incredible and being homesick is a frustrating potential side effect. Once you settle into your new environment and make some friends it’ll quickly disappear, but hopefully some of these tips can help you to cope until then!