Agony aunt: homesickness at university

“I’ve been struggling with homesickness since arriving at university. What is your advice for someone who misses being at home?”

Many people say you are going to miss home when you eventually leave ‘the nest’.  And it’s true. I remember struggling the first few nights at university, and thinking, ‘How can I suddenly start being independent and taking care of myself?’

No matter whether you are from Leeds, another part of the UK, or elsewhere in the world, you will definitely feel a shock when you move to university. The change can be quite daunting, and feeling homesick is normal. Even though you can’t choose to stop missing home, there are some things you can do to alleviate the sadness.

1) Think about why you miss home and respond proactively.

You probably miss the warmth of your family and being known well by someone. In essence, you probably feel lonely. So, what can be done to eliminate this feeling? The easiest way is to open your door, get out of your room, and meet new people in the common room. All first years are in the same boat, and are more likely than not to be friendly and want to chat.

If you are not an outgoing person, then do something you love in a context where you can meet new people, for instance, in a society. I personally enjoy volunteering, so I chose to join a volunteering club, and there I have made some good friends. If the people around you have similar interests and goals to you, it’s easier to mingle and deepen your friendships.

2) Explore your surroundings.

When you are missing home, find time to go out. We have the beautiful Hyde Park close to campus, so why not visit and enjoy a nice view? Alternatively, you can have a wander around the city and take in the historical architecture of many buildings in Leeds, which you may not have seen before. You can also attend open events, like the Leeds Christmas Market, and enjoy the local culture.  With so many things to do, you’ll find there is something for everyone. Hopefully, once you familiarise yourself with your new city, and maybe even fall in love with it, the place will truly become your second home.

3) Talk to your family.

It is inevitable that you will miss your family, even if you develop good relationships in Leeds. So, don’t hesitate to call or Skype your family whenever you feel that you need them. Sometimes, just hearing familiar voices is enough to make you feel better. However, please don’t hide your sadness and just tell them the happy bits, as this doesn’t help at all. Your family will want to support you through tough times, so tell them how you feel and let them comfort you.

Feeling homesick is very difficult, but trust me, the feeling gradually fades as you make new friends and get to know your city better. I hope these tips can help you and that you have a happy few years here!

Man Ting Yu

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