One in four university students are lonely most or all of the time, according to a new study by the Higher Education Policy Institute. The findings show that this is four times worse than adults in the general population. So, what can we do about it? Well, there’s no doubting that moving away from home and going to university can be difficult. Feelings of loneliness and homesickness can creep up out of nowhere, and it can be horrible missing your life back home. If you’re worried about feeling homesick at university, or if you’re already feeling like that, then here are some ways to help alleviate those feelings.
Stay close to home
I know for many people, one of the exciting things about uni is moving away from home, but sometimes it also comes at the cost of homesickness. If you know you’re the type of person to get homesick easily, it’s best to apply to universities closer to home. Staying close to home was something I am glad I did since it was always easy for me to go back whenever I wanted. Moving hours away isn’t for everyone.
Make plans to visit home
Making plans is an obvious but important part of getting over homesickness at university. Having regular plans to go home (or even having your family and friends come to visit you) gives you something to look forward to, and will make your homesickness less intense. If you’re planning on doing this, it’s definitely worth making sure there is a public transport route that you can take, just in case you don’t have a car.
Arrange a weekly call
So, let’s say you have moved away and going back home isn’t possible. Arranging regular calls with your family and friends is a fantastic way to keep in contact, and can help massively with feelings of homesickness at university. Having regular calls will help you feel closer to home, even if you can’t be there. It also doesn’t just have to be a call. You could do a quiz, or play an online game such as Scrabble or Pictionary (there are so many options), as long as it works for you!
Decorate your room
Decorating your new room to your taste will make it a lot easier for you to feel more at home at university. If you don’t decorate your room, then it will never really feel like a home, and that’s not what you want since you will be living there for a while. Fill the walls with pictures, cover the bed with blankets, and hang up every single poster you have. Make sure to bring as much stuff as you want from your old room into your new room, to make it feel even more like home. It’s also worth bringing comfort things with you. This can be things like your favourite movie or book, your hot water bottle, or your favourite pyjamas. Do whatever you want to make it feel like your room because it will help you overcome your homesickness.
Go and meet people!
Going out with friends is a great way to avoid feelings of homesickness. The more comfortable you get with your new course-mates or flatmates, the happier you will be at university. Homesickness can feel a lot like loneliness, so don’t isolate yourself from other people, because it can get lonely otherwise. Going out is also a good distraction, and you’ll find yourself missing home less and less.
If you are feeling really down and missing home, then just calling someone can help. Having a chat with one of my school friends always cheered me up when I was feeling homesick, and it was nice knowing that I was never really alone. If you feel like you don’t have anyone to talk to and you are feeling really low, it would be worth contacting your university mental health support team, or even ringing Samaritans if you feel you need that support.
Remember that It’s not permanent
Your homesickness will pass. Moving out is hard, but it’s easier to overcome once you get into a routine at university. When you go home for holidays, you will most probably start missing university, and experience a whole different kind of ‘university homesickness’.
If you’re still concerned about your mental health at university, check out our other articles on how to take care of your mental health at university.