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Whilst beginning life at university can be exciting, the many changes involved can easily leave you feeling overwhelmed and anxious. This is natural and, for some, this apprehension is quickly overcome as they adapt to a new environment; for others the transition takes longer and sometimes emerges as homesickness. This involves missing, and grieving the loss of, what is familiar and secure: people, places and routines. In addition to longing for home and/or family, symptoms of homesickness can include depressed feelings, anxiety, obsessive thoughts and minor physical ailments. Although the onset varies, it is commonly the first few days or weeks after arriving at university which are the most difficult.
Vulnerability to homesickness can be affected by a number of factors, including distance from home, whether or not it was the student's choice to come to university, expectations of university not being met, work load and family situation. Those who are homesick often feel they have no control over their environment, and that they struggle to find their place at University. As making the transition to University involves leaving the familiar behind, as well as getting your head around adapting to a new life on both a social, academic and domestic level, there is no wonder that you can sometimes feel overwhelmed. I f you still feel homesick after a few weeks, don't lose confidence that you can adjust to living independent. Below are some tips of how you can deal with homesickness:
Talk to someone. If you haven't yet made friends here, then try a tutor, chaplain, counsellor, or your GP.
Make your new room your own, e.g. decorate it with things from your room at home, fill it with your favourite music, photos, films, books etc.
Keep in touch with the people you have left behind; visit home and encourage friends and family to visit you- but try to balance this with getting involved at University too, to help it become a familiar and comfortable place.
Remember that many other people will be sharing similar feelings, although you may assume that they are doing fine (you can't read their minds - just as they can't read yours!).
Be realistic about your expectations and establish a balance between work and leisure.
Remember to get enough food and sleep. These affect us emotionally as well as physically. Although it may be difficult in the first few weeks, try to establish fairly regular routines for sleep patterns and meal times.
Join a club or society for something that you enjoy- this could be a way to make friends. At the start of the academic year many new people will be joining - you are unlikely to be the only new person.
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.
Remind yourself that you have already overcome the challenge of coming here in the first place- no small task in itself!