Saturday, 12 September 2015

Dealing with Homesickness | Experience and Advice


This is a slightly more sombre blog post today, but since Students Saturdays encompass various aspects of being a student, this felt appropriate for this time of year.

This week has been Fresher's Week at my university, meaning that this time last year was my very first full week living away from home - away from everybody and everything that I knew and that I was comfortable with.

I was the only person from my high school that went to my uni, so I was completely on my own. (Not that that's a bad thing in the slightest!) I wasn't nervous in the run-up to moving, but on the actual day I was terrified. About 7 miles before we'd reached my halls of residence, I was overcome by a horrible feeling that I'd made a huge mistake and I wasn't cut out for university. Typical.

As everyone does, I got caught up in meeting all of these new people (11 flatmates meant that there was a lot of people to get to know!) and going to fresher's events etc. In that respect, everything was fine. It was only when I was locked away in my little bedroom that the feeling of loneliness started to kick in.

I'd phone my parents every day and put on the whole 'everything is wonderful I love it here so much' tale, but once the call was over I'd be crying to myself (this all sounds way more dramatic than it actually was) and not wanting to socialise. Now, I'm very comfortable spending long lengths of time on my own. I have a reputation of being a recluse in my family, because I can go days without coming face to face with anyone, and be perfectly fine with that. However, I don't know if it was the fact that I wasn't very close to my flatmates, I couldn't see my parents or my dogs whenever I wanted, or I'd hyped up the university experience so much that I was bitterly disappointed that after two days it hadn't lived up to my expectations that made me feel this way. I think it was probably a combination of all three, but I was pretty miserable for a few days.

I just want to say though: that is completely normal. Everybody goes through a bout of homesickness at some point when they stay away from home, and I'm actually really glad that I experienced it at the very start, because it meant that it could only get better from there. 

I don't know exactly how I got through that stage, but I did. I met some great people on my courses, and we bonded over our mutual fears that we were way out of our depth. The good news about feeling like that is that you'll continue to learn! (It would be super dull if you went into a course already knowing everything they were teaching you - although there were some people like that in my courses, and their superiority complexes can really get on your nerves!)

And in terms of being homesick because I missed my family and friends (and my dogs!), Skype was invented for a reason. I skype home once a week and phone my parents everyday, usually when I'm walking home from class. That may seem like too much contact for some people, but striking a balance that works for you is best. So even if you don't get homesick, your parents will be missing you terribly. Phone them, text them - keep them involved in your new life.

Overall, I'd say that if you get homesick, don't blow everything out of proportion. Yes, there are differing severities of homesickness, and I do know people who left university because it got too much for them, but make sure that you really evaluate that situation and not rush into anything. Like I've said, everybody has doubts about whether they made the right decision or not, but for most people that feeling passes once they settle in. For some, it doesn't. And that's based on everybody's different mindsets and knowing what they are capable of. (After all, it's better to spend two weeks at uni and decide it's not for you than to spend a whole year there miserable, or to not go at all and always wonder if you were being too cautious - there's no harm in trying it out!)

Have you experienced homesickness before? And if so, how did you cope?

Speak soon!

Chloe x