Homesickness

Not all students are partying hard having the time of their life. Many feel lonely and homesick – especially in the first few weeks of term. Here's what to do if you just want to go home.

boy homesick at uni

I really miss home...please don't ever tell my parents.

I’m really homesick, what should I do?

The important thing to remember is that feeling homesick is totally normal; it doesn’t make you weak. Lots of people struggle when their support network is whipped away from them, but there’s stuff you can do to feel better.

Talk to someone. If you haven’t yet made friends then talk a tutor, supervisor, chaplain, nurse or counsellor about how you’re feeling. Don’t suffer alone.

Decide how much contact with home works for you. Keep in contact, 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 and clubs… and to make at least one or two friends. There’s usually loads happening at universities, and the Freshers’ Fair could be a good place to find out what’s on. Going to a first meeting may be daunting, but the more you feel part of campus life, the less homesick you’ll feel.

Get a work/fun balance. You’re NOT expected to work ALL the time. On the other hand, if you don’t put in enough time on work, you can very quickly get behind, which only adds to the stresses.

Establish a routine as soon as possible. The fuller your days are, the less time you will have to feel homesick or lonely.

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 is homesickness?

It’s not an actual illness as such, but you may notice an increase in:

o Depressed feelings

o Anxiety

o Obsessive thoughts

These can come with physical symptoms, such as a nervy tummy, increased heartbeat, breathlessness, feeling nauseous and temporary insomnia.

Why do I feel this way?

There are several reasons for feeling this blue at the start of what should be the most exciting time of your life. These can include:

o The distance from home – the further you go, the worse it may be

o A sense of anticlimax – you’ve finally arrived at university after working towards it for so long

o Unhappiness when things are different to your expectations

o A heavy workload

It can be a struggle to adapt to a brand new life, and often those who are homesick feel they have no control over their new environment.

Suddenly, instead of being a central person in a small unit with plenty of peripheral activities and friends you’ve become an anonymous member of a 5000+ community where you don’t know anyone. You may feel shaken and lonely and long for the secure and the familiar. Sometimes these emotions are completely overwhelming. Tasks that would normally have been easy can suddenly seem quite a challenge – even impossible – without your usual framework of support.

What if my homesickness doesn’t get better?

If quite a bit of time has passed and you’ve tried all of the above but still feel rotten, ask yourself if the course, university and/or the time is right for you?

You can always take another direction or delay uni for another year – it doesn’t make you a failure. Those who do leave mostly find another course or university with which they are happy – perhaps after taking a year out. Talk to your tutor, a careers advisor and your LEA before making any drastic decisions.

If it’s beginning to take over your life and you stop functioning on a social and academic level, seek professional help either from your doctor (GP) or the student counselling service.

Next Steps

  • Looking for a mentor to help boost your knowledge and skills? Find a youth zone close to you.
  • Reveal your skills with Define Me and find the right words to tell employers.
  • Download Motimator - an app that helps you get the career you want - by giving you a gentle kick up the ass each day when motivation is running low.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015