Being away from home can be very tough. You miss your friends, family, and most of all: your own bed. Being at university doesn’t make it any easier; the anxiety surrounding your grades and meeting new people can break you down.
So if there’s anything that I’ve learnt from my last year as a fresher, it’s the two most important tips on how to overcome homesickness and stay mentally healthy at university.
- Make friends.
It’s easy to be sad when you’re alone. You recollect memories made with friends back home and you remember how much distance there is between you. The best solution to this is to make new friends. It may feel pointless cause they can never be like the ones you’ve known for years but you should remember there was a time you didn’t know your friends. Being away from your usual group allows you to meet new people and experience new things.
Also, you need to remember you’re not the only one who feels this way. Almost everyone around you misses home so talk to people about it. It feels like a weight is lifted off your chest when you speak about the things that make you feel sad. It’s even better when the person you’re talking to can relate. You might even realize you don’t have it that bad and can help put things in perspective.
As an international student, I struggled a lot in my first year with homesickness. I was in a totally different continent without family for the first time. After talking to other international students, I realized how difficult it is for others who live even further away with English not being their first language. I became fast friends with people like this because I understood them. The people around you understand you, reach out and they’re sure to make your experience better.
- Find something to be passionate about.
Missing home and being stressed about school is a very bad combination. It can make you sad and anxious and is horrible for your mental health. You need to make sure you do things outside your academic curriculum and only do them because they make you happy. It can be anything, as long as it makes you feel good. A nice hobby or activity can take your mind off the sad stuff. Go out and join a society, group or club. People don’t appreciate enough that sports are amazing for not only your physical health but also your mental. In my first year, I joined my college football team. Being out and about running on the field made me forget all the things that were troubling me. It was just me, the fresh cold air and the ball.
If you’re not a fan of outdoor activities, stay inside and set aside time for yourself. Do whatever it is you love or sets you at ease. Watch your favourite show, write, chat with friends. I found it very calming to draw at least once a week. I’d turn off my phone and have a drawing competition against my friend who is an amazing artist. Even though I lost every time, and badly I might add, it did the trick. Remove yourself from the world for a bit, reload yourself and go again. Your grades are important but you’re even more important. Make sure you have fun.
Freshers’ isn’t something you’re going to get back, even though most of us wish we could. And although the first week was full of anxiety and new faces, it was also where I made some of my best memories here, something I’ll never forget.