You’re all moved in and the term is in full swing but for some reason your ideal uni life isn’t falling perfectly into place as planned and you’re feeling a bit fed up! Flatmates can become pests, uni workloads can pile up and after one too many smoke alarm encounters you can discover that the freedom of cooking for yourself isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Today, 13 October, is reportedly the day that most students who’ve moved away from home start to feel the homesickness pangs. Longing for mum’s cooking, the tranquillity of a quiet house and the comfort of your own bed can sometimes become all too much. We’ve taken a look at some common causes of homesickness, and offered a few solutions to help you get through the term ahead in one piece…
Struggling to making friends
Going from your tight knit school group or home town squad to an unknown uni campus full of strangers can be tough. You’ll come across all sorts of characters and amongst them you need to find a BFF, but where do you start? Maybe you and your flatmates in halls got on like a house on fire in week one but a few weeks down the line you’re starting to notice some annoying traits and decide you’d rather live in a burrow somewhere on campus than share living space with them.
• There are 7 billion people in the world – just because you don’t get on with the people you were placed with doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of potential pals out there for you. Say yes to any invites and check out the clubs and societies on campus. You probably signed up to about ten clubs in fresher’s week and receive all their mail! Get down to a social night and you’ll be welcomed with open arms. Maybe suggest a course night out?
• Keep in touch with pals from home. You can share your news and concerns with people who really know you by text, WhatsApp, Snapchat and every other social messaging app in the world and they will make suggestions based on what they’re up to!
• Get out your room! A lot of people end up spending too much time isolated in their room using social media instead of socialising with real people. Think about spending more time in common areas where you’ll run into possible mates.
Unless you’re lucky enough to have a parent giving you pocket money or paying your phone bill, you’ll find yourself all of a sudden in complete control of your finances. This can spell disaster for some as money disappears on pints in the union and new clothes, with little to cover the small issues of food and rent.
• Over the course of a week, note down everything you spent money on. This will help you identify where you splash cash which would be better spent elsewhere. Write up a list of all your expected incomings (like your SAAS payments) and outgoings so that you feel in control of which quantities are going where.
• Go and have a chat with your bank. Most students open an account which has an overdraft (extra money which you can use but must pay back) which can really help in times of need. Remember not to abuse this facility though – use for emergencies and desperate situations only!
• Consider getting a part-time job to help you become financially independent while you are studying. It is easy to find employment shops, restaurants and doing promotional work. Check out our advice on making money while you study here.
You’re not in Kansas anymore. Nobody is going to cook for you or wash your clothes and they certainly aren’t going to drag you out of bed to lectures in the morning. It’s all down to you to train yourself in the art of independent living. But the transition can be tricky, especially if you don’t know your washing powder from you detergent and the only kitchen appliance you use is the toaster.
• Make a change! You’ll feel unhealthy and sluggish if your weekly shop consists of instant noodles, pink wafers and pints so turn over a new leaf. Screeds of simple recipes can be found for free on the internet so get practising and you’ll feel productive, healthy and satisfied.
• Ask flatmates how they do things. If you’re stumped by the washing facilities or have an irrational fear of the grill, odds are someone will have the knowledge to help you out. You need to feel confident when using kitchen facilities for your own safety too.
• Schedule fun time. Think ahead about the nights you can go out which mean you won’t have to drag yourself to a lecture early in the morning. A hungover brain can really struggle to process information so try to think ahead about what nights are best for letting your hair down.
The sudden change of lifestyle means you are no longer in a cosy routine of home where everything is familiar and easy. You have a new timetable to get to grips with, new surroundings, tutors and friends. You’re expected to just get on with everything, but sometimes the drastic change can feel totally overwhelming.
• Keep in touch with home. There is no one better than family and friends to reassure you that everything is going to be ok. A simple call to Mum or Dad can make you realise that a worry you were so fixated on is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things and not worth wasting time on. Plus your loved ones will be delighted to hear from you!
• Look at the bigger picture – you’re only in first year, so although you should always try your best academically, this is a time where you are experiencing lots of things for the first time and it’s ok to make mistakes whether it’s in class or with new love interests. Remember everyone is in the same boat so chat to new acquaintances about any concerns you have and they might have some great advice.
• Introducing some regular exercise, even if it’s just a walk to explore to jog every few days, can help to clear your head and put everything in perspective. It will give you time to organise your thoughts and give you a sense of wellbeing.