Bonfire Night is one of my favourite nights of the year, hands down. It’s all about family and friendship, and in the small little town where I grew up everyone heads to the park to watch a huge firework display whilst sipping hot drinks and getting giddy on the fairground rides afterwards. I’ll never forget Bonfire Night 2013 though. While my friends and family back home were out enjoying the festivities, I was sat in my pokey university bedroom, sobbing my eyes out, battling the urge to hop on a train back home and to never return to university again.
Homesickness is a bitch. One the one hand it should make you grateful that you have such a lovely home life and family that it makes it so hard to leave behind. On the other, it consumes your whole life, making you a shell of who you once were. It makes you live in a constant, tiring countdown, wishing every minute away so that you can pack up your stuff and head back home again.
I suffered terribly with homesickness in university. I’ve honestly never felt so low in my life. I’m a busy bee. I love socialising, I love going out, I love being busy, being creative, being active. But the homesickness I suffered with left me feeling depressed and anxious. I would literally have to drag myself out of the house, which was odd for someone who lived life so fully, and would crawl back into bed after lectures, doing nothing other than wishing time away and going on too many nights out in a bid to combat the constant dull ache I had in my stomach.
Fast-forward to the present day, and I’m currently sat in a hostel in the middle of London, with plans of heading out into the city to explore alone later, before meeting one of my best friend’s to watch the London skyline explode with fireworks later on. I’m staying here, completely alone, for one month, and while this may seem like a doddle to some, the fact that I even got here is something I would never have even dreamed of when I first started university four years ago.
Homesickness can be overcome. I’m living proof of that and while I do still yearn for my home from time to time, I know now that I can move away if I want to, and if I don’t that’s completely fine. It’s also about that time of year that people are really starting to get settled in university, and if you’re suffering with homesickness, then here are some tips and tricks that really helped me to finally get settled.
1. Get into routine
For me, this is absolutely essential. Being busy, knowing what you’re doing and when, and having a plan of action in place means more time for doing and less time for thinking, worrying and being upset. In the first few months of university I would literally go to lectures, type up essays and sit around moping. It wasn’t until I properly got myself into a routine of going to lectures, reading and revising in the library, and working out in the evening until I finally felt settled and more comfortable. Simple things like knowing I had a gym class for an hour between 5 and 6 meant I had structure, and this really helped me to get into the swing of life and to stop counting down the days.
2. Find yourself a hobby
For me, it was blogging. I started blogging towards the end of my first year, and boy I wish I’d started sooner! It gave me something to focus on. It provided an escapism from every day life and allowed me to be creative, to connect with other people and just to be busy. Whether it’s blogging, going out and taking pretty photos for Instagram, attending a dance class or keeping fit by working out in the gym, having a hobby that keeps you occupied and gets you busy and excited is a huge help. It’s helped me in more ways than one, and now I have friends from all over the UK who I can speak to if I’m ever feeling low.
3. Keep active
I think it was homesickness that really made me become so obsessed with fitness and working out. It wasn’t just about looking good, it made me feel so good too. I would relieve so much stress and tension in the gym. It gave me something to focus on and when I returned back to my university flat or student house, I’d feel energised and positive. Getting out and keeping active is so much more effective than wasting days away with a box set. Don’t get me wrong, I love a Netflix binge as much as the next person, but those endorphins make you feel so incredible. I’m actually about to head to the gym as I’m writing this…
4. Get friends and family to come to you
As soon as Friday evening hit I’d be on that train shooting along the Welsh coastline and heading back home before you could say “Jack Robinson”, but one thing I think really helped me in the last two years of university was friends and family coming to visit me. It meant I was settled and in one place, but with the added bonus of having wonderful company. Ask friends and family members to visit you instead of you going home, plus it gives a wonderful excuse to get out and explore your surroundings.
5. Find a circle of positivity
Above all, remember that you’re not alone in this. Find someone you can talk to, someone you can spend time with who will understand that you’re not being a shit friend if you cancel plans because you want to go home so immediately. This was the one thing I found out in university, many people who don’t understand what you’re going through will think poorly of you, and if they do treat you in a way that hinders, rather than helps, you overcoming homesickness then they’re really not worth your time. Surround yourself with positive people and positive energy, people that fit into this circle are the ones that count.
Lots of love. xoxo