My Homesickness Survival Guide: Part 2
I go home all the time
At first, I tried to follow the advice to not going home too much — let yourself adjust and become independent. I’m sure this works for some people but it absolutely does not work for me! What actually happened when I tried to keep some independence from home was: I became sad.
So instead, I now go home pretty much every weekend (slightly easier now I can keep my car at uni; slightly harder because Covid). I also FaceTime home every evening.
I don’t worry that this means I’m not independent. In terms of practical stuff (cooking meals, laundry, shopping): I’ve got three years to work all that out. And emotionally: why do I need to be ’emotionally independent’? If I’ve got a family I love and want to spend time with and talk to, what’s the problem with that?
I don’t worry that I miss out by going home. As I said, not going home so much makes me sad and I’ll miss out on a whole lot more if I’m sad all the time. Also, when I did stay at uni at the weekend I didn’t do loads of fun and exciting things. I moped about, feeling lonely and quite bored.
I’ve get a strange sense of melancholy that tends to happen when I arrive at, and leave, home. It’s probably a feeling as old as time with its own name and everything, but I think of it as lurch. I haven’t found a way to get rid of this feeling completely, but I have found that lurch is minimised the more frequently I go home. Back when I was trying to go three or four weeks before allowing myself a weekend at home, most of that weekend was and I didn’t have any time to enjoy myself.
I talk about it and I own how I feel
It took me a while to truly abandon the idea that being homesick and wanting to go home a lot was some kind of failing. That it just meant I wasn’t doing it properly. That it was something to get over.
While homesickness is certainly unpleasant and quite frustrating at times, I found out the hard way that it isn’t really something you can change about yourself. Or should try to change. So now, I talk about it! This doesn’t mean I break down in front of everyone. I just make no secret of the fact I miss home, or am going home for the weekend. And through talking, I’ve found that a lot of other students experience very similar thoughts and feelings to me. And none of us are failures. Starting university is a really big change and it’s bound to hit some of us like a brick wall. Managing those feelings takes strength — it’s not weakness.
(On a related ‘talking’ note, I used the Student Wellbeing services and they were brilliant. I’d really recommend using them if you’re finding things tough.)
I take care of myself
I think the thing about big changes is it’s easy to let important things slip. And this will only make homesickness worse. So, I make sure I’m eating enough (healthy) food, getting exercise and getting sleep. I make sure I’m talking to people (including phoning home!) and doing the things I enjoy. I also make sure I’m not doing what I did in my first year: getting stressed out of my mind and not even realising it.
Emotionally, I try to just roll with it and not panic too much about feeling homesick or stressed or sad. I try to not take things too seriously. I try to treat a lot of things (shopping, cooking, etc.) as a game or a challenge to have a go at, but not worry too much if it all goes wrong. Going home every weekend helps with this — I can take each week at a time and have the weekend to look forward to.
Homesickness can really suck and make you feel like a total failure. But it’s a normal human feeling and affects loads of students. After a shaky start, I’ve managed to work with my homesickness and find a pretty happy balance of my home and university lives.
If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment here.