What is homesickness?
Homesickness is the distress or impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home. Its cognitive hallmark is preoccupying thoughts of home and attachment objects. (Wikipedia)
For some, the transition to university life takes longer than others and in this period homesickness can emerge as a desire for the familiar environment, for what is safe and secure.
More often homesickness is focussed on the loss of family, friends and dear ones, but it is also about the loss of places and routines. For some who are attached to their family and its environment it is very difficult to cope with the transition. It can take a longer unless the person finds the appropriate support that s/he needed it.
Research shows that up to 70% of students will experience homesickness in their early days at university. It is a normal part of the experience of leaving home. However, even mild homesickness deserves careful attention. It is a reminder of our need to respect our physical and emotional needs at a time of stress. Yet, for some people the results of homesickness are quite disabling, and need additional support from parents, friends or professionals.
For students who are well connected with the family church, temple, grudwara, mosque etc when they move to university they may find it very difficult to cope with the transition. There is help available but you will have to ask and actively seek the help and support.
For International students who are adjusting with life in the UK as well as the cultural adjustment, language barriers, food etc it is a new journey. There are support services available which will help you integrate into the British society when in the UK.
Typical physical and emotional symptoms:
- loss of concentration
- crying and sadness
- difficulties in sleeping or eating
- waves of emotion
- disrupted menstrual cycle
- nausea, headaches or dizziness
- trembling, and feeling either too hot or too cold
Typical thought patterns:
- I miss my friends so much
- I need to get home, or at least phone home as often as I can
- I want to be with my family
- I am not coping with looking after myself
- I hate having to live with people I don’t know
- I do not know who I am here
- People here really do not like me
- It’s like prison. I don’t belong here
- I want to cry especially when I am by myself
- Everyone else seems fine. Why am I the odd one out?
What might help?
- Talk to someone. If you haven’t yet made friends here, try speaking with a professional.
- Keep in good contact with the people you have left behind; arrange a time to go back to see them, perhaps after a few weeks. Also give yourself time within the university to begin to get involved here.
- Join a likeminded student society/group
- Morning Meditation/Yoga
- Give yourself permission to feel sad and homesick, but also to enjoy yourself.
- Be realistic about what to expect from student life and from yourself. Establish a balance between work and leisure.
- If work is proving difficult, consider what you can do to improve your study skills or your organisation of time and work so that you gain satisfaction from what you do. There may be people in your college or department who can help in this area.
- Remember to get enough food and sleep. These affect us emotionally as well as physically.
- Make contacts and friends through shared activities such as sports and hobbies. There are so many clubs and societies within the university and city, that you are very likely to find something that suits your interests. And at the start of the academic year, many other new people will be joining.
- 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.
- If you feel homesickness is stopping you from being able to do normal social and academic things, seek further help.
Sources of Further Help
- Student Wellbeing
- Careers Advice Service