We're starting a new series on our blog - a Freshers Survival Guide! We know being a fresher at University can be a very daunting time, we hope these posts can help out, if there's a topic you'd like us to cover please, or you'd like to write a post let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here's our first episode - dealing with homesickness as an international student.
So we all know the thought of going to uni for the first time creates a churning feeling of excitement, nervousness and genuine fear. That before phase where you overthink everything and create weird scenarios in your head as to what to expect and how it’s going to be, and then arriving and having it be completely different yet oddly satisfying that everything is a pleasant surprise. But, for us international students you have to admit, things are a lot harder. Homesickness makes everything that little bit more difficult. You’re trying to adapt to a completely new life and have the pressure of making friends, all the while keeping up with work. Things can get very overwhelming and all you want to do is go back home. But don’t let this feeling get you down, it’s completely normal and you’re not the only one, just don’t let it get the better of you. Push past this initial feeling because the best is yet to come and things get a lot easier.
Most people don’t even expect homesickness to affect them, but trust me, most people are affected by it even if it might not seem like it. The way I deal with homesickness is making sure to keep in contact with my family throughout the week. My personal favourite is via FaceTime - there is something fundamentally comforting to actually seeing my family once a week. However, phone calls are also a great way of feeling connected to family and friends, and with the services of FaceTime and WhatsApp you don’t have to worry about alarmingly expensive phone bills.
One thing that is fundamental to getting over your homesickness is not talking to your family too often. I find that once or twice a week is enough as you should be getting on with your life at uni and not trying to live your old life at home precariously through your family. Take this opportunity to start afresh and become your own independent person.
Another important way of getting over your homesickness is keeping yourself busy. Seeing your new friends, focusing on your work and getting a sense of a routine are great ways to do this. Also, remember that everyone is in the same boat as you, so don’t be afraid to open up about how you’re feeling to your friends or flatmates. You could be surprised to find that they're feeling the same way and you can help each other through it, and not feel so alone about the way you're feeling.
Other ways of getting over homesickness is trying not to go home so often. I found that in my first term of first year I wasn’t homesick until I actually went home and remembered how nice and easy life was at home, and envied all those years where I took it for granted. Try to immerse yourself in your new life and make it a life you are happy in by surrounding yourself with people that make you feel good and a routine that keeps you balanced. This means that when you do go home you find yourself appreciating it more and making the most of being with family and old friends, so by the end of your visit you’re excited about getting back to your routine and new friends.
Lucia, Second Year English Literature and Theatre Studies, University of Warwick