My Homesickness Survival Guide: Part 1 – OurWarwick
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My Homesickness Survival Guide: Part 1

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
Maddie Lee | Integrated Science Contact Maddie
Anything -- I found university quite daunting to begin with,…
Find out more about me Contact Maddie

Before I started university, I had barely given a moment’s thought to homesickness and I certainly wasn’t prepared for it to affect me. However, homesickness struck pretty fast and hard and made my first couple of terms really difficult. When I restarted university (see my other blogs!) I was much better prepared to deal with it.

So, I thought I’d share my experience with severe homesickness, the mistakes I made, and what I now do to minimise homesickness.

What it was like

It’s tricky to describe my first real experience of homesickness, because A) it was complex and tied up with other things, and B) it always sounds a bit melodramatic. But I’ll try.

It started as soon as I arrived. I didn’t have a very good welcome week. I spent a lot of time shut in my room feeling upset and scared. I felt like I was completely alone, surrounded by strangers who knew nothing about me and wouldn’t notice if I disappeared.

it felt like I didn’t know what to do or how to function without my familiar framework of family, places and friends. I didn’t really know who I was without them.

I kept thinking about my life ‘before’. I looked at old photographs, and maps of my home. Memories I hadn’t thought of in years resurfaced. Everything felt like it was through a lens — me looking back on someone else’s life. It was like a grief; no-one had died, but I had completely lost my old life and nothing would ever be the same again.

I felt angry at myself for feeling like this. This was supposed to be an exciting time for me but I felt awful. And I was supposed to be getting on with academic work. And I only lived an hour’s drive away — there were people here from the other side of the world coping just fine! I was worried I’d never adjust to living alone. And that every ‘exciting’ time in my life would actually be awful like this.

So, now what do I do?

I continue being me

I think a big part of my homesickness was an identity crisis. This was partly from trying to start university as a new, improved, perfect version of me. It was partly because I had always been myself at home and not really myself at school — when there was no home, I wasn’t ever really being me.

Now, I make sure I’m me as much as possible. This often means not trying so hard. I wear clothes I’m comfortable in. I make a bit of noise and a bit of mess. I have a bit more of a sense of humour. Sometimes my packed lunch is the grimmest thing ever! Sometimes I watch awful films that I hate! And it’s all fine!

I also try to roughly follow the routine I had at home. This can be tricky because now I have to do things like make/buy all my own food, do all my own laundry, wash up, etc. I also don’t have a dog to walk. But keeping things like watching some TV with a cup of tea in the evening helps me keep a sense of continuity between my uni life and home life.

I’ve seen the advice to ‘make your room feel like home’ before and I think this is useful, but I never quite understood how to apply it. Now, I do. For me, this means having a little radio with me and playing Radio 4. Using the same laundry detergent so my clothes smell normal. Taking familiar stupid little bits and bobs with me, instead of making my room look like an Ikea showroom.

To be continued…

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
Maddie Lee | Integrated Science Contact Maddie
Anything -- I found university quite daunting to begin with,…
Find out more about me Contact Maddie
  • Jennifer Mary Siggers

    A very clear, concise, intelligent article that no doubt sums up virtually everyone’s thoughts/feelings at this difficult time. Very well done for being open and honest!

    Reply

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