February has arrived and seemed to disappear quicker than a British summer, and that can only mean one thing, we’ve either had a lovely Valentine’s Day, or we’ve had a lovely February 15th buying all the reduced chocolates! Valentine’s Day can be wonderful when you are in a loving couple and able to enjoy the day together, but this is not so much the case for those missing home.
Being half way through my third year at university, I feel well integrated into life here, in Liverpool; I have found new hobbies, I have balanced my time to enjoy these hobbies, and most importantly, I have been lucky enough to find the most supportive friends who make our little student house feel like home.
However, I haven’t always been this comfortable at university. My first year was spent feeling emotionally unstable, as I struggled to fit in, keep up with the workload and cope without my friends and family. At the time, I felt so alone, dealing with these thoughts. I felt like I just wasn’t cut out to be a student. But, in reality, I was wrong. Feeling alone is incredibly common among students, however confident they may seem to the outside world!
But why does this notion of homesickness manifest in students, in the first place?
There is an incredible amount of pressure for university to be the adventure of a lifetime. It is the time when we finally get to study what we are interested in, rather than what the government has made compulsory; we’re going to be making new friends every day, and enjoy a new-found freedom, so all in all, it should be a breeze! Yet, I still find my brain stressing and missing the familiarity of home. As a young child, being away from your family group would have made you vulnerable, and university can feel the same! The homesickness you feel is often just your brain trying to protect you, even if it doesn’t feel like it! When humans lived in independent communities, in harsher environmental conditions, and isolated places, this response made perfect sense- it stopped you leaving your family and ultimately kept you out of danger.
So, it’s easy to forget how big the transition of moving to university is, whether you’ve moved halfway across the globe or half an hour down the M6, or from a big farm to a huge city- change is still huge! You now find yourself having to fend for yourself properly for the first time. You come home from a 5 o’clock finish, make your own tea, do your washing, make lunch for the next day, and prepare for lectures the following day. All by yourself. It’s so different to being at home, in the area you may have called home for a very long time, with roads you know, instinctive knowledge of the best corner shops, and a helping hand always only a shout down the hallway away- you’re pretty well equipped to be independent at home! But everything is so different away from there…
Although there isn’t a ‘magic cure’ for homesickness (hot drinks and warmth won’t do the job by themselves I’m afraid, I’ve tried!) there are lots of things you can do, that given time, will make things a lot easier for you. With such a huge number of very different societies offered to all students through the Liverpool Guild of Students, as well as plenty of places to visit and go walking, it was much much easier than I thought to find hobbies I enjoy and start meeting amazing people! So, even if homesickness is in full force, after social media made us all feel alone, don’t be shy! Try and put yourself out there and start making memories! That will be the best cure, we promise.