Coping with home sickness in student housing

College is all about pushing boundaries. This is a big transition as you move away from the comfort zone of your home to a new city, new college, new environment and all that was familiar. For many students, college is the first time in their life that they might be living away from their families. Sometimes, adjusting to life away from your home can be difficult.   If you’re suffering from homesickness, just remember you’re certainly not the only one.

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Taking about homesickness can be a personal feeling that not everyone feels comfortable expressing. There’s a chance that those around you are feeling the same too, but are just keeping mum. To give you a helping hand, Placio has put together our top tips for combating that longing for home, so you can concentrate on making the most of your college years

It’s normal

Times of feeling low, stressed and anxious are part and parcel of moving away. There is always a period of ‘adjustment’ that people go through when faced with any change which usually includes feeling initially happy, then lonely, then unhappy, then settled, confident and content. Feeling homesick isn’t a weakness, nor is it something you should feel guilty about. Accept how you feel.  Many other students will be sharing similar feelings, although you may assume that they are doing fine.

Give yourself time to adjust

If you don’t love college\campus\ student housing the second you step it is OK. Some students make this transition easily while others take a little longer, there is no shame in that. It is quite a big life adjustment to make in so many ways, so don’t pressure yourself to settle in immediately and to stop missing home is unrealistic. You don’t have to get everything right straight away. Nor do you have to rush into making major decisions about staying or leaving. Realize that new situations take time to get used to and that you will probably always miss home to some extent. Over time, feelings of homesickness will decrease in intensity. Conversely, don’t be alarmed if in the first term you don’t have any issues and then find yourself feeling homesick later on in the year. Homesickness can strike at any time, even during your final year, so don’t be too hard on yourself if it does happen to you.

Talk about it

The transition from school to college can be tough, and there’s no shame in asking for help. If you’re having any issues with your course (or anything else for that matter) don’t suffer in silence. Talk with your counsellor, friend, parent, brother or sister who has experienced leaving home.  Surround yourself with a group of friends can help you feel a bit more grounded and a sense of security. Potential friends are everywhere at college – and everyone is in the same boat.

Keep in touch

Keep in good contact with family, whether by a phone call, a Whatsapp group chat or a letter in the post. This helps to close that gap and make you feel closer to home. Also share with your family the fact that you miss them, arrange a time to go back to see them, perhaps after a few weeks. But also give yourself time to get involved here too. Don’t let looking back actually hinder moving forward. It will always be better to do fun stuff at college as well, so you have some stories to tell people back home! You should try to give yourself the chance to find a support network in college too. In time, you’ll see that this is a good thing. It’ll give you more confidence and independence.

Be open-minded

Sometimes expecting too much can be part of the problem… approach college life with an open mind. If you are expecting things to be a certain way, it can be more difficult to deal with them when they are not. Eat and sleep as this affect us emotionally as well as physically.  Your mental and physical health are linked so if you start neglecting your physical health, your mental health could start to go downhill too. It sounds simple but getting enough sleep, eating healthily and getting some exercise can really help to boost your well-being.

Try something new

Don’t spend too much time in your room. It might be tempting to just sit in your room, but staying in too much will only serve to make you feel worse. Isolating yourself will make your feelings more intense, as you’ll spend even more time pondering on what you miss about home. Try to keep yourself busy and explore your surroundings so that you’ll feel more at home. Go for walks, do some sightseeing, volunteer at college or even just making sure you’re going to all your lectures are all ways that you can get your mind off your homesickness. You’re only around for a few years, so now’s the time to make the most of it!

Remind yourself

Think about why you were initially excited to come to college. Before making big decisions it can sometimes be useful to think about the advantages/disadvantages of staying vs the advantages/disadvantages of leaving. The long-term gains. Don’t only think about the short-term fix to homesickness. Students often drop out of college without thinking about the long-term consequences of their decision. For some students, it is the right thing to do whereas for others this feeling passes.

Get into a new routine

If you’re a creature of habit, you won’t feel truly at home until you’ve chalked out a daily or weekly routine. Keeping track of your timetable and setting aside time for socialising, studying and chilling out will minimise stress when things get hectic. Being organised will also keep you busy enough that the weeks will fly by and your next trip home will be around the corner before you know it. If you’re starting to get overwhelmed by all the new and exciting things you’re doing, it’s okay to take a step back.

Self-soothe

Make yourself at home. Make your room as comfortable as possible… unpack and decorate with some comforts from home. Staying positive also makes you a pleasure to be around, so you’ll probably find it much easier to make new friends (which also helps to keep homesickness at bay). Look

after yourself and be aware of when you’re feeling down — use your senses — sight, sound, taste, smell and touch are all great ways of regulating emotions. For example, listen to relaxing music, have a cup of tea, smell your favourite perfume or have a shower/bath. Simple, but often effective!

If you have pre-existing mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression, homesickness may trigger these so talking your concerns over with someone may help to keep those in check. Homesickness could also lead to these conditions so try to monitor your feelings as best as you can. What makes you feel better when you’re missing home? Let us know how you deal with homesickness on Twitter or Facebook.