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How to deal with homesickness

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Published: 5 March 2019

For many students, coming to University will mean that they have to live without their families for the first time in their life, and that could be terrifying. You are used to your routines, surroundings and hometown friends and things change so quickly, it can make you feel homesick. This is normal, but it's useful to know how to deal with it.

The excitement of opening a new chapter in your life by coming to the University can soon be replaced by crying and missing your friends and family. Homesickness comes in different shapes and forms; if you're not sad or depressed, you could experience difficulties in sleeping and eating or trembling, or feel either too cold or hot. You might think that you're all alone because you don't know anyone or no-one is in the same situation as you are. Well, the University of Sunderland welcomes thousands of students that live outside their hometown so you are definitely not riding solo.

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You might experience homesickness in your first week at the University, or you could also settle in well but start missing your old life in your second year if you are an undergraduate student. Whenever it happens, there is something you can do about it.

Stay busy and get out

Even though it sounds hard, especially for people who are introverts or are not into socialising, getting out and being busy is probably the best cure for homesickness. Grab a coffee with your new flatmate/s to get to know him/her/them or maybe go by yourself to read that book that you always wanted to. Head to a gym or just go running or explore your new surroundings by having a relaxing walk while listening to your favourite music. You might also want to join a society or a sports club. At the University of Sunderland, we have a big range of societies to join or clubs to play for. If there is nothing you like, you can always start your own society and spend plenty of time with people who have the same interests as you do.

Call home

Stay in touch with your loved ones, but not too often as that may cause you to miss them even more. At the beginning of your course you will be constantly in touch with them as you will have many exciting stories to tell them, but as you begin to get busier with your studies and social activities, it'is okay to call home couple of times a week. You shouldn’t spend too much time chatting to people back home because you might miss out on what’s happening around you and this will make your homesickness worse.

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We asked our international students how they deal with homesickness

It's okay to talk to someone about it

If you are feeling down to the point where you don't feel like you don't want to get out of your room or go to lectures, it's okay to talk to others about it. It might not seem like it at that point, but it's helpful to get things off your chest. You can do that either by contacting our Student Wellbeing Service or maybe have a chat with your course leader. Arranging an appointment with your local GP could be helpful as well.

Bring home comfort and take time

You might have a toy, blanket or some other object that makes you as happy as Joey is when he is hanging out with his favourite penguin Hugsy. Bring it with you so it can cheer you up. Also, having a photo of your friends or family in your room can keep you going and make you feel more like home.

It is okay not to like the University the second you step on campus. You might see someone who is more comfortable than you, but people are different. There's no shame in giving yourself some time to explore all the possibilities that come with studying.

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We asked our international students how they deal with homesickness

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