If there’s one difficulty I struggled with when it came to university, it was the fact that I was hours away from home. Despite all of the new-found freedom that came with moving into halls, I was insanely jealous of other students who still lived at home and got to see their families every day after classes. I would never have let my parents think that their choice in location would ever have had an impact on my own choices in life, but truth be told, I was very close to dropping out and returning home just days after they left me in Glasgow. It’s hardly uncommon for such a thing to happen, and some students simply realise that they just aren’t ready for it – it’s a big step to take and incredibly daunting, even if you feel like you’re cut out for it!
After a while, I eventually settled into my new surroundings. Of course, I still get a pang of homesickness every so often. It’s totally normal! Everyone’s different and will deal with it in differing ways, but I thought I’d share the things I found eased off the feelings a little bit back in my first few months away!
Join a society or club
I know that this is kind of standard advice, but becoming a member of a society or sports team can really help you find your feet in new surroundings. This was actually something that I didn’t do at first, but wish I had after joining a few things in my final years. Not only will it introduce you to a group of new people – some of whom may be in the same position as you – but it will also provide you with activities to keep you busy and hopefully take your mind off of things!
Find others who are experiencing similar feelings
They say that us islanders always manage to seek each other out. And, well, that might actually be true; if the Scottish islands were lacking young adults between the ages of 18-20 back in 2014, it’s because we were all in Glasgow Caledonian University’s halls of residence.
Upon leaving Islay, I thought I was heading to the city to try and get away from the whole idea of island life. But it actually became a great comfort to know that I had people around me that were from similar backgrounds and who were the same distance from home. They knew of a life without dual carriageways and cinemas, and had grandparents who told them off in Gaelic, just like mine. Not only did it make me come to appreciate my culture, but it also made my dorms feel like a home away from home. Even if you don’t have people around that are specifically from similar places, just buddying up with someone else feeling the same way as you do means you can both push through it together.
Bring things from home with you
This is kind of a 50/50 one for me; I’ve included it in the list because I’ve been told by others that it helped them, but in my experience it kind of made me think about home a lot more and therefore caused me to feel worse… For those who do say it works, bringing items from home can make you feel a little bit closer, and can act as a comfort.
Talk about it!
Feeling homesick is by no means something to feel embarrassed about, nor is it an uncommon thing. One coping strategy for me, be it in the case of sickness or feeling annoyed, is to talk about it. Like, I will just tell anyone who’s willing to listen about how I feel and repeatedly bring it up for as long as I need to until it’s out of my system. So in my first few weeks out in the big city, I would just tell stories about back home and talk about how small it is, what there is to do there – anything, really. People found it interesting because it was a lifestyle they’d never experienced before, and it helped me because I would get to chat about it, sometimes with a little cry, and then get on with things.
Don’t visit back home too soon
Another mistake I made. My granny gave this advice to my mum when she left the same island for Glasgow, and so my mum passed it onto me. However, unlike her, I didn’t listen – and followed them home after two days. Yup. Barely any time had passed since they helped me move in, I’d only met half of my flat, and Freshers week hadn’t even started. It was incredibly difficult to try and leave again – this time without them – and just caused tears and a load of confusion as to whether I should actually return to university. Give it a few weeks at least, at which point you’ll have hopefully had time to adjust to your new surroundings and get to know the people you’ll be around for the rest of the year.
Best of luck to you if you’re heading out to university or college! It’s a scary thought, but it was by far the best thing I ever did.
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