If this is the first time you have lived away from home you may find yourself missing family and friends. This is simply because you are naturally attached to familiar people and places. The problem can be compounded further for international students by the culture shock of discovering a new country.
Homesickness often dissolves away naturally in the first few weeks of term as you get involved more in your course and social life. The University environment can become familiar pretty quickly, which tends to give a sense of calm and control.
Your homesickness may continue if you are struggling to find your niche, or if there are problems at home that you are worrying about. If you still feel homesick after a few weeks, don't lose confidence that you can adjust to living independently from home.
Homesickness can also be caused by:
- A sense of anticlimax - you have finally arrived at university after working towards it for so long
- Unhappiness when things are different to your expectations of student life
- A heavy workload
- Those who are homesick often feel they have no control over their environment, and that they are not identified with it or committed to the university or their place in it.
- Talk to someone. If you haven't yet made friends then try a member of student wellbeing, a chaplain, a Student Union Advisor or a member of halls staff.
- Keep in contact with home but make a real effort to make new friends at uni too. Decide whether the best policy for you is to have frequent contact with home (because contact makes you feel better), or little contact (because contact makes you feel worse). Think carefully about whether or not to go home at weekends. Some students find it helps to ease the transition; others find the constant readjustment makes them feel worse.
- Make a real effort to join societies/activities and to make at least one or two friends. This might feel very difficult, but the more you feel part of campus life, the less homesick you will feel.
- Be realistic about what to expect from your university and from yourself. Establish a balance between work and leisure: you are NOT expected to work ALL the time - you would soon burn out. On the other hand, if you don't put in enough time on work, you can very quickly get behind, which only adds to your stress.
- Try to establish a routine as soon as possible. The fuller your days are, the less time you will have to feel homesick or lonely.
- Remember to get enough food and sleep.
- Give yourself time to adjust: you don't have to get everything right straight away. Nor do you have to rush into making major decisions about staying or leaving.
What might help?
For a small number of students, however, this experience will be more intense and will cause feelings of great distress. If you are one of these students it is not unusual for you to experience feelings of anxiety, palpitations, shaking, crying, sleeplessness, loss of appetite and feelings of desperation.
It is important to remember that - even though it doesn't feel like it right now - these feelings will not go on forever. If you feel this is affecting you make an appointment to see a counsellor on +44 (0)1332 593000.