Homesick at uni? How to cope with homesickness

Although many freshers won’t admit it, leaving home, even if it is to start the next chapter of your life, can be tough. Especially if you’ve moved far away from your friends and family for the first time. Here’s our guide on what to do if you’re suffering from homesickness.

A young woman is on her phone. She is experiencing homesickness. This is a wide-angle image.

What is homesickness?

Let’s first answer the question, ‘what is homesickness?’ just to clear up any misconceptions.

‘Home sickness’ doesn’t mean you’re actually ill. It’s a feeling you get after leaving home which usually has an impact on your mental health. For example, but you may notice an increase in:

  • Depressed feelings
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive thoughts

Having said this, it’s important to note that mental and physical health are usually linked. So along with feeling down, you could have other symptoms, such as a nervy tummy, increased heartbeat, breathlessness, feeling nauseous and temporary insomnia.

What to do if you’re homesick at uni

Firstly, we wanna say that suffering from homesickness is a natural part of the uni experience; it doesn’t make you weak. Lots of people struggle when they start university, especially if you’re an international student. Luckily, there’s stuff you can do to feel better. These are some of our top tips: 

  • Talk to someone. If you haven’t made friends yet, that’s okay. Try talking to a tutor, supervisor, chaplain, nurse or counsellor about how you’re feeling instead.
  • Decide how much contact with friends and family back home works for you. You should defo keep in contact. Just don’t let it interfere with settling in at uni. Everyone feels differently about this topic. For some students, staying connected to home helps with the transition while others just find the reminder painful. So make sure to figure out what your new relationship with your home-life is gonna be like.
  • Make a real effort to join societies and clubs… and to meet new people. Even though it may be overwhelming at first, talking to people can really help. There’s usually loads happening at universities. The Freshers’ Fair could be a good place to find out what’s on or even just looking at the Student Union’s social media. Plus, the more you get stuck into campus life, the less homesick you’ll feel.
  • Get a work/fun balance. This is your friendly reminder that you’re NOT expected to work ALL the time. As long as you’re not falling behind (and even if you are a little), you’ll be ok. On the other hand, if you’re getting stressed out about the new workload then check out our article on coping with stress here.
  • Establish a routine as soon as possible. It’s pretty simple. The fuller your days are, the less time you’ll 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. Just take it day by day for now.

Why do people feel homesick at university

There are loads of reasons for missing home comforts during your first weeks of uni. Here are a few of them: 

  • The distance from home – the further you go, the worse it may be.
  • A sense of anticlimax – you’ve finally arrived at university after working towards it for so long but it doesn’t feel like this magical thing you’ve built it up to be.
  • Unhappiness when things are different to your expectations.
  • A heavy workload.
  • Really, really missing the family pet (and your siblings and parents as well ofc).

We’re not gonna sugar coat it for you, adapting to a band new environment can be tough. And, more often than not, those who are homesick feel they have no control over their new life which makes sense. Even if you were a small fish in a big pond in Secondary School, in university you’re that same fish but in an ocean

You may feel shaken and lonely. You might even find yourself longing for the comfort of A-levels again. But we promise, there are methods for dealing with homesickness at university that’ll make things better.

What to do if your homesickness doesn’t get better

If quite a bit of time has passed and you’ve tried all of the above but still feel overwhelmed, it might be worth asking yourself if the course, university and/or the time is right for you? Remember, you can always take another direction or delay uni for another year – it doesn’t make you a failure. In fact, it’ll probably be what makes you a success.

If that sounds appealing then check out our guide to changing university or changing university courses here. Just make sure to talk to your tutor, a careers advisor and your LEA before making any drastic decisions. On top of that, you should seek professional help either from your doctor (GP) or the student services.

If you’re feeling lonely or homesick at uni you could also reach out to the community on our discussion boards for help and support, we would love to hear from you.

Next Steps

  • 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.

Tags:

freshers

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 20-Apr-2022