So, you’ve confirmed a place at your dream university, you’ve packed up your belongings, and you and your parents have road-tripped it up to your new city. You’re bursting with excitement for the future, the people you’ll meet and the opportunities ahead.
And then, suddenly, you feel homesick.
But try not to panic – it’s completely natural to miss home in the first couple of weeks, no matter how much you were looking forward to starting your uni adventure.
Feelings of homesickness are more common than you might think – after all, striking out on your own in another city or country is a big change! According to the NUS, as many as 70% of freshers feel homesick within the first few days of university.
To help give you a step in the right direction, we've put together our top tips for coping with moving away from home. You’ve got this!
1. Don’t feel guilty if you miss home
Feelings of homesickness can be confusing – especially if you were really excited about starting university. But remember that these feelings can stem from a range of worries, from missing your friends back home to being nervous about your uni course or being afraid you won’t fit in. That’s a lot to get your head around!
The majority of former students will say that university was the best time of their lives – but that doesn’t mean they didn’t feel homesick occasionally! Don’t put extra pressure on yourself by feeling guilty or embarrassed, or comparing yourself to others.
And remember that 70% statistic? It’s highly likely that the people around you are going through the same thing. Which brings us to our next tip…
2. Get talking
If you're feeling homesick, don’t shut yourself away – reach out and tell your new friends or flatmates how you're feeling. Remember that you’re not the only newbie, and it can be comforting to hear how others are feeling. Opening up to your flatmates will also help cement your budding friendships as you support each other.
At Sanctuary Students, our halls have common areas and we also run regular events, making it easy to meet your flatmates and help you settle in. And you could even keep your door propped open when you’re in your room – as it may encourage your new housemates to pop their heads in and say hi.
3. Try new things
As well as introducing yourself to new people, don't be afraid to try new things. By getting involved with university societies, clubs and sports teams, it will help you settle in and make new friends with similar interests – and it should also distract you from thinking about home. Most universities are still running freshers fayres in 2020, either outside or virtually, so dive in and find the perfect club for you!
4. Go exploring
Homesickness often stems from being in unfamiliar surroundings, so get out there and make your new city or town “familiar”! Exploring your uni town or city will help you overcome your homesickness, and is also a great way to bond with your housemates if you go together. For inspiration on where to explore in your university town, view our range of city guides.
5. Pack some home comforts
And talking of feeling more “at home”, make sure you pack your favourite things to give your room a personal touch. You may be moving out into the big wide world, but your favourite cuddly toy or throw still has an important place in your new pad! And why not print off some favourite photos of your friends and family to help you settle those nerves?
You could also buy some new decorations – while you can’t get the paint out, you can easily add a splash of colour to your room with bedding, cushions, table lamps and other knick-knacks. Plants and cacti are also a brilliant way to make a room feel more homely.
6. Get some staple meals under your belt
Remember to look after your body – not eating properly will have an adverse effect on your mental health, as well as your physical health, and can therefore exacerbate any negative emotions you might be feeling.
The responsibility of cooking for yourself for the first time can be daunting – especially if you’re feeling homesick, so make sure you have a few simple dishes in your repertoire before you start uni. Check out our recent blog: 7 simple dishes to master before starting university – some favourite recipes will make a real difference if you’re feeling a bit blue!
7. Understand the changes for 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has added an extra layer of uncertainty to moving away from home this year. At Sanctuary Students, we’re doing everything we can to make the transition as simple, smooth and safe as possible. We've produced a handy guide for our students which details the adjustments we’ve made to shared spaces, repairs, rooms visits and on-site facilities.
You can also read our blog about what to expect on move-in day to make your first day less stressful. For information on how your chosen university will be approaching coronavirus and the current social distancing measures, please visit their website.
8. Phone home (but not too much)
While we would recommend trying to talk to your new housemates about your feelings in the first instance, you should absolutely talk to close family or friends back home if you feel more comfortable doing so. Remember that they’re only a call/text/WhatsApp/FaceTime away!
Talking to loved ones will make your feel less alone, and they might even have similar experiences to share with you – for example, your parents might have moved house or job, or an older sibling might have already been to university. That said, regular phone calls with home can sometimes make you feel worse, so try to immerse yourself in the “here and now” at university as much as you can.
9. Make plans back home
Having something to look forward to back home might help with the move – especially if you’re feeling isolated. Put some get-togethers with friends and family in your diary before you leave – but try not to go back too soon, as it could make your homesickness worse. Give yourself time to settle in first, and remember that the first few weeks of uni are the best time to meet new people!
10. Remember why you’re there
Remind yourself of the reasons you decided to go to university. Remember all the research and preparation you did – finding the perfect uni, a brilliant course and, of course, your amazing Sanctuary Students accommodation! Think of all the times you imagined yourself walking to campus with your new friends and all the societies you wanted to join.
But make sure you’re being realistic with your expectations about student life. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: DO NOT compare yourself to other people!
11. Know when to seek support
If you have tried the above tips and your feelings haven’t improved, it’s important you don’t suffer in silence – talk it through with someone. Whether it’s a friend, family member, your GP or university tutor, sharing your feelings will help.
There are plenty of avenues of support you can turn to, including our Student Advice Line from our partners at Health Assured. At Sanctuary Students, your health is our priority and that’s why we offer professional support to help you with any problems you may face from stress and depression to financial issues and coping. The phone line is open day and night, 365 days a year and everything you discuss is kept confidential so there’s nothing to worry about. Call the freephone number on 0800 030 5182 – we are here as often as you need us for as long as you like.
We can’t wait to meet you!
Here at Sanctuary Students, we are here to help you enjoy the best university experience possible while living a happy and healthy life. We understand that moving away from home can be stressful, and you may need a little extra support from time to time. Find out more about our wellbeing services here.
Our doors are open and we’re looking forward to welcoming you to your new home-away-from-home this autumn. This is the start of a wonderful new stage of your life, and we’ll be with you every step of the way!