Starting university is an exciting time. There are new places to explore, new people to meet and new things to do. You’re expected to have the time of your life as a student, especially during Freshers’ Week - however, not everyone settles into student life so easily. In fact, research shows that up to 70% of students will experience homesickness in their early days at university.
Many people feel guilty or left out if they experience homesickness. That doesn’t have to be the case, though - feeling homesick is perfectly normal, and there are plenty of things you can do if you’re struggling.
What Can I Do?
Talk to people - It’s likely that you’re not the only person in your social circle who is missing home. If you feel comfortable doing so, chat to your flatmates or people on your course about how you’re feeling. You might be surprised by how many of them are going through the same thing, and you can find ways to support one another. Don’t feel like you’re limited to making friends with other students, either. Check out http://www.meetup.com to find social events in your area, where you can meet other people who share your interests.
Keep in contact (within reason) - Calling or visiting home can help with feelings of homesickness, but these things can actually have an adverse effect if you do them too often. Try and schedule phone calls - perhaps every other day for the first few weeks - and set a date for your first visit so you have something specific to look forward to. When you’re chatting to friends and family from home, try not to focus exclusively on how much you’re missing them. Talk to them about positive experiences too - if you’ve been to an event or made a new friend, let them know about it!
Establish a routine - When you’re settling into a new place it can be really helpful to have a set routine. Take a look at your timetable, get to know the route to campus and find out where your local amenities like shops and cafes are. Try and get up at the same time every day and familiarise yourself with the local area - these little things can help make a new city feel like home.
Enjoy your experience - It’s much easier to deal with feelings of homesickness if you’re keeping busy and having fun. The Students’ Union offers loads of activities and opportunities for students, and they’re a great way to get out and meet people. Organise things that you can look forward to - go on a day trip with Give It A Go, join one of over 100 societies or arrange a one-off volunteering session. All of these things can help you feel more at home in Sheffield, and can get you excited about student life!
Where Can I Get Help?
- On Campus - Located in the Surrey building on Hallam’s City Campus, the Student Wellbeing service is there to support students with their mental health. If you’d like to speak to a Wellbeing practitioner about feeling homesick, pop into the reception or contact them on 0114 225 2136 or at email@example.com to arrange an appointment.
- Online - Big White Wall is a fantastic online mental health and wellbeing service. It’s easy to use, totally free and completely anonymous. Access online courses and self-help materials, chat to other users in a safe environment and express your thoughts and feelings through creative outlets. Visit www.bigwhitewall.com to find out more.
- Over The Phone - Nightline is a student-run, confidential and anonymous listening and information service. Their phone lines are open from 8pm to 8am every night during term time, and they run instant messaging, email and text services too. You can call Nightline on 0114 222 8787, or visit their website at www.sheffieldnightline.co.uk for more information. No problem is too small or too silly, so if you find yourself needing a chat don’t be afraid to give them a ring.
You’re Not Alone
Homesickness isn’t just a problem that affects new students, either. You might have a brilliant time when you first get to university, then find yourself missing home later in the year. Some people don’t get homesick until they’re in their second or third year. No matter when these feelings affect you, there is support in place for you whenever you need it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help - homesickness is a really common issue, and there are loads of resources in place if you need them!