Many students coming to college, and maybe leaving home for the first time, feel homesick. Even those who didn't ever expect to be hit by homesickness can suddenly find themselves missing the familiarity of home and friends, and don't know quite how to cope with the resulting emotions. This is entirely normal and passes, usually in the first term, and often within the first few weeks.
It is really important to realise that you are not the only one feeling homesick and that it doesn't in any way mean you are inadequate. Suddenly, you find that, instead of being a central person in a small unit with plenty of peripheral activities and friends, you have become an anonymous member of a large community where you know no-one. Understandably you feel shaken and lonely and you long for the secure and the familiar. Sometimes the emotions are completely overwhelming.
What can you do to help yourself?
- Most importantly: acknowledge your feelings and accept them. Believe that they will pass. They almost always do.
- Decide whether the best policy for you is to have frequent contact with home (because contact makes you feel better), or little contact (because contact makes you feel worse).
- Think carefully about whether or not to go home at weekends (if this is possible). Some students find it helps to ease the transition; others find the constant readjustment makes them feel worse.
- Make a real effort to join societies/activities and to make at least one or two friends. This might feel very difficult, but the more you feel part of campus life, the less homesick you will feel.
- Familiarise yourself with the Student Union and the Clubs and Societies and Sports. Apart from all that they offer they are excellent ways to meet people in the early days before lectures and social events are really underway. Take a book and sit in a corner and read if you are afraid of seeming conspicuous.
- Try to establish a routine as soon as possible. The fuller your days are, the less time you will have to feel homesick or lonely.
- Volunteer to help with something - there are plenty of groups looking for volunteers. The Welfare Officers in the Student Union will put you in touch with them if you tell them you are looking for ways to get involved.
- Sometimes it helps to share feelings of homesickness. Think about talking to the Welfare Officer at the SU or contacting one of the Student Counsellors. Sharing these feelings may take you over the worst period.
Thanks to Royal Holloway for permission to reproduce this information © Copyright Royal Holloway, University of London, original 2001, last revision 2006