Monday, 14 September 2015

Student guide | Homesickness

Amidst the anxiety of results day and excitement of accepting your place at university, some people may underestimate just how big a change in your life you’re about to endure. Moving to university is a huge step, monumental in fact, and often, this can be quite overwhelming. In a completely alien environment, you are bound to be nervous and it would almost be strange if you didn’t at some point, begin to miss home.

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When I first moved up to Newcastle, I was severely homesick and all I wanted to do, was quit and come home. Two years on, I couldn't be more pleased that I persevered - it's the best thing I could ever have done. It was hard though, and before I give you tips on a few things you can do to try and settle those feelings you may be having, I thought it would be a good idea to share a few thoughts I had written down at the time.

Written in Freshers Week, 2013

Midweek:
I feel alone. Even with 5 other flatmates, who are absolutely lovely, and thousands of other people that like me, have started their freshers week, I feel horribly and totally alone. I feel like I'm putting pressure on myself way too much to go out and get drunk every night even though that doesn't particularly interest me; but what else am I going to do, sit alone in my room all night and be the odd one out? I look around and see all these people having an amazing time, laughing and joking, yet I'm the opposite - I actually just want to see my parents!

Freshers week is hyped up to be this incredible time where you make all these great friends and have the best nights ever - but in between them are long days to be filled and at times I feel so desperate to leave, completely overwhelmed at the entire situation.
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The week after Freshers:
Everyone says 'oh you'll be fine once you get there' or 'you are going to absolutely love every minute of university!'..but what if you don't? Does that make you abnormal or weird? 

My freshers week was a blur of tears, phone calls home, awkward conversations with strangers(and a hangover or 3) and there were so many times that I wanted to drop out and go home but what good would that do? I couldn't even occupy myself with tasks to stop myself getting upset, because it was almost as if I couldn't let go of the idea of 'home'. The word 'home' for me, comes with connotations of comfort, happiness and familiarity and throughout my first week, I was anything but that in these new surroundings and even with incredible support from my family and friends back at home, I was miserable.

It's not in my character to give up and I was not going to waste weeks of revising for A Levels, plus the sense of achievement of getting good results by dropping out before I'd even given my geography course, and the lovely city of Newcastle a chance. So even though all I wanted to do was sit in my room and cry, I pushed myself to do things that I would usually shy away from, like making conversations with new people and joining societies/groups such as the University magazine and with this, not only did I begin to make new friends and build solid relationships with my flatmates, but I feel like I'm beginning to have a sense of purpose in university life, outside of my course.


You feeling emosh? 



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If you are feeling like this (or maybe not quite like this, I am quite dramatic...) here are some tips which may help you settle in to your new life as a fresher:

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Please don’t think that you are the only person to ever have felt this way. Thousands of students each year feel homesick and it is a completely normal reaction to moving away from home. Talk to your housemates, talk to your friends who have started at university, talk to your family - get those feelings out! Even your university will have so many services available to support you if you feel like you need to talk to someone, so please don’t suffer alone.

DON’T HIDE AWAY

The last thing you may feel like doing is socialising with your flatmates but it really is so important to not lock yourself away in your room – it really doesn’t help the situation. Push yourself, make conversation and you’ll soon see that making friends is much easier, and a lot less daunting, than you first thought.

GIVE IT TIME

Even if you think that university just isn’t for you, please give it time. As time passes, and you become busy with lectures, studying and socialising, the feeling of missing home will be pushed to the back of your mind and soon enough, you'll be loving life as a student.

KEEP BUSY

In Fresher’s week especially, you will have a lot of free time so try to keep busy. Go shopping, explore the city you are in, attend events put on by the Students’ Union and socialise with flatmates. Whether it be grabbing a coffee in the city centre, or sightseeing around the local tourist hotspots, take your mind off home and keep busy.

CONFIDE

Whether it be crying down the phone to your mum, or talking to a flatmate, don’t bottle all of your feelings up. Chances are, your flatmates are feeling the same way so help each other through and you’ll look back and smile at how things have changed so much.
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University is one of, if not the, best time of your life so don’t think that those awkward conversations at pre drinks last forever. Embrace the the student life and a year from now, you’ll look back and laugh(and probably cringe) at those freshers memories…

Leave a comment below with any advice you may have for those who are feeling homesick at the moment, and if you are feeling like this, talk to me! I know I found it really nice to speak to people who had gone through the same experience but were now loving their time at University...


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