How to Deal with Missing Home

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By Max, Chemical Engineering
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Birmingham

One of the slings and arrows that university students go through is homesickness. I have had my fair share of homesickness, peaking when I had to attend my country’s national service at the age of 18. It’s normal to feel homesick whilst you’re at university – especially when you’re ill and especially during the holidays. When home isn’t just a train ride away, homesickness can seriously take a toll on you, so it’s of utmost importance to know how to deal with it. So, what can you do to be impervious to homesickness? Read on to find out.

  • Bring photos and knick-knacks from home

There’s something magical about decorating your room with things from home. It’ll make your room feel somewhat homey and helps to add in a sense of familiarity at a foreign place. It could be as simple as putting a framed picture of your family and friends on your desk or wall or maybe even bring your favourite pillow or sentimental items that you grew up with.

  • Stay connected with your family and friends

When I was in the national service, my family would frequently visit me since the camp was located at a fairly drivable distance. In university, however, I can’t really expect my family to travel back and forth from Malaysia so we had to find other means of staying connected. Video calling is by far what most students resort to including myself, but calling would also be sufficient. A tip that I’ve gathered from my friends is to schedule video calls with your family and friends from home. Having a dedicated time slot on your weekly schedule for this purpose will also keep you motivated in getting your work done as you have something to look forward to.

  • Keep yourself occupied

Positive distractions will also work wonders to keep your mind off of feeling severely homesick. I’m grateful (in a way) that the Chemical Engineering department keeps us busy, even during the holidays, with coursework as it keeps me present most of the time instead of making me constantly think of home. If you have the time and the means to do it, travelling with your friends during the holidays can also combat homesickness. However, I would advise you to complete any pending work before doing so because doing coursework or revising while you’re on a holiday isn’t necessarily fun.

  • Make new friends

Friends from home are undoubtedly irreplaceable but widening your circle of friends in university can also remedy homesickness. They’ll keep you company and you’ll also have a support system to rely on when you’re feeling homesick. Your friends will most likely feel homesick too at some point, so know that you’re not alone. I wrote a blog post about making friends at university, so you might want to check that out too.

  • Seek additional support

The University of Birmingham also has several support groups that you can take advantage of if you need additional support when you’re dealing with homesickness. You could get in touch with the Student Mentors which are helpful especially if you’re in your first year and if need guidance. Additionally, you could also consider visiting Guild Advice which provides free and confidential advice services regarding wellbeing and international support, among other things.

Homesickness is bound to happen at some point while you’re at university, especially if you’re in your first year. It gets better with time as you adjust with the new environment and when you make new connections at university. Remember, you are not alone in this, there’s plenty of support system that you can use to help you make the most out of your university experience.