ASK THE EXPERTS
Advice on relationships, education and well-being
I’M AWAY AT UNIVERSITY AND I’M HOMESICK!
Q I’m 18 and have just started university. While I’ve enjoyed the first few weeks, I am suddenly feeling very homesick and anxious. I miss my parents and my sister and I just want to go home.
AIt’s about the time of year when students suddenly realise how much their lives have changed; the first few exciting weeks of university are over, and the reality of being away from home can hit them hard.
Being away from the family dynamic on a long-term basis for the first time is something many young people assume they’re ready for… until it actually happens. And once the novelty of starting your new course and making friends wears off, as it inevitably does, all that can be left for some is that unfortunate by-product of being independent for the first time – loneliness.
Leaving to go to university, no matter how hard you’ve worked to get there, still means being wrenched from the security your family.
As a child, you tend not to think too hard about those strong emotional bonds that bond you like glue to the ones you love. You just live your life and actually enjoy a great deal of freedom. You might think it’s strange to look at childhood that way, but as I’m sure you’re beginning to realise, adulthood and going out on your own for the first time brings with it the realisation you are suddenly totally responsible for yourself.
For some, that’s something they embrace, but for others, like yourself, it can feel like a very heavy burden to have to start carrying. It can make you long for the comfort of home and it can cause anxiety.
So, how best to combat these feelings of homesickness and the associated anxieties? Well, the first thing to do is try to keep your move towards independence in perspective – the first step towards truly being a responsible, rounded adult is being able to cope with testing situations, like the one you’re in, with confidence. Accept these first few homesick weeks are a rite of passage, if you will, and the best thing you can do to fight loneliness is to throw yourself wholeheartedly into both your course and university life in general.
Face the anxiety head on – homesick feelings begin fade over time as you adapt to your new surroundings and begin to build a stable network of friends.
It’s important to remember that many of those other young people that surround you are also feeling exactly the same as you and you’ve got to try to keep putting the effort into interacting with as many new people and situations as you possibly can. Your family will always be there for you, and with today’s advances in technology they’re only ever going to be a FaceTime away!
However, if those feelings begin to overwhelm you and you feel you’re really not coping, it’s important to seek out the help of student services and talk to them. Most universities have great counselling services
Accept these first FEW homesick weeks are a RITE OF PASSAGE and the best thing you can do to FIGHT LONELINESS is to throw yourself into both your course and UNIVERSITY LIFE
that can help get you through those times when you feel low, so don’t hesitate to use them.
To conclude, put the worry and anxiety aside, and try to focus on the future and keep in mind all of the hard work you have put in to get to where you are. Finding a small group of friends who share your interests will help to bond you to a wider circle. Take comfort in the fact that your family will always be there for you, and that’s the reason you miss them so much. RUSSELL HEMMINGS
is a life coach, and clinical and cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist