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Elliot Thompson is here with his new advice column! In each issue he’ll discuss a different topic that can affect many of us from time to time, from this week’s focus – homesickness – to relationships, stress and everything in between.
We’re just past the halfway point of term, and while many of us will be wondering just where all the time has gone, many will undoubtedly be suffering from homesickness. Homesickness is arguably one of the most difficult parts of uni life, perhaps more difficult than the course’s workload. We’ve been in education a long time, so no matter how stressful work is, by now we’re used to working to deadlines – though the major difference at uni is that we don’t have the support system of family in close proximity. Homesickness is a universal issue and here are some tips to help you deal with it.
When I started at Lancaster, over two years ago (where did all the time go?), my excitement was contained by my fears of being away from home, but I found that the fast pace of uni life meant that I didn’t really have the time to miss home. However, we must bear in mind that my first week here – as was the same for everyone – was Freshers’ Week, probably the most fun week of term, where the prospect of work can be supressed. Even though every week is not Freshers’ Week, there are still so many activities, both social and academic, to get involved in.
Joining societies will keep you busy, make your time at uni more enjoyable and act to distract you from thinking about home. However, being part of a society can do more than this, as they allow you to meet new people, and more importantly people with similar interests. Maybe you did an activity back home and you want to pick it up back here? If you do, you might even end up meeting a carbon copy of your best friend back home in the process – that’ll definitely make you miss home, right?
So here’s a solution: if you can’t be at home, at least be in contact. Whether it’s on the phone or through Skype, speak to your family and friends regularly. While uni life can be stressful and boring it can also be very exciting, so what’s better than sharing news of your latest adventures and mishaps with people back home? They’re bound to be jealous. Keep this contact regular and I guarantee that when you do go home to your family and friends, it will feel like you’ve never been apart from them.
Calls, texts and Skyping are all well and good, but sometimes we need that bit more, so why not go home for the weekend, or if you’re lucky like me and have a reading week, make a week of it? The countless tasks involved with being a student can mean that when you’re at uni it’s like being in a bubble: visiting home allows you to break out of this bubble and get a taste of normality. A couple of nights of sleep in your own bed, in your proper home where you don’t have to worry about flatmates dirty dishes all over the kitchen, is surprisingly therapeutic. So why not take a break, and come back refreshed and raring to go?
If you don’t have the time to visit home, then get your family and friends to visit you. There’s plenty to do in Lancaster and if you’re a really dedicated student you can schedule things around your visitors so you do still get some work done. Everyone needs a break though, so don’t be worried if you let your work slide, just a tiny bit.
Make sure your uni room is homely and comfortable, because when you’re not hanging out in the lounge or kitchen with your flatmates, you will probably be in your room. Alone in your room it’s easy to feel isolated, and miss home even more, so make sure it’s a place where you can feel happy and relaxed, take the opportunity to be creative, so it really does become a home away from home.
I really hope some of these ideas will help you to deal with homesickness. Just remember that it’s an issue that affects everyone at some point during their time at Lancaster, not matter how much they love the uni. Make the best of uni life but don’t forget about your home life, find the right balance for you and things will be alright.