One aspect of first year that secretly affects most of the student population is, unfortunately, homesickness. Although it’s expected to a certain extent, it can affect some more than others and is seldom talked about. What should you expect? How can you get through it? Is there anyone on campus to talk to? After a few weeks, the mention of the word ‘homesickness’ almost becomes taboo. A separation between two types of students quickly becomes visible – the ones who adjust to university life like a duck to water and the type who silently struggle. It’s hard to admit to people back home that the first month of university is not the big party TV shows and the advertising of freshers’ week led you to believe!
One thing that always gets overlooked is the many different ways the dreaded ‘H’ word can sneak up on you. Yes, you expect tears when you talk to family members or moments where adulting becomes too difficult, but the physical impact is always ignored: the loss of weight, nausea and struggling to eat. During my first semester, I lost a stone in the first month because I struggled to eat anything that wasn’t a banana, yoghurt or salad. I was not the only one, another friend of mine was unable to keep any solid food down for the first few weeks.
So, what’s the best way to cope? For many, the first solution is to visit home as soon as the first month is up. But I can tell you, this is possibly the worst thing you can do. If you go back home as soon as you get the chance you risk having to go through the homesickness all over again when you have almost gotten over it.
Talking to the people around you is usually the easiest solution. When asked, you will be surprised how many people on your course are struggling through the same thing. The university knows this and provides a professional counselling service at the student wellbeing centre – where you can talk to experts in a confidential setting. Like the ducks in the photo above, any reminder of home can also prove useful alongside home comforts such as fairy lights, photos from home, cushions and cuddly blankets. Feel free to justify spending a few extra pounds on non-essential items during the start of the year if it will make your evenings cosier – these items are a great investment that you will not regret.
Personally, my biggest aid through the bumpy patches of first year was my international friends. After all, if they could make it work in a new country, speaking their second language and/or surrounded by unfamiliar objects and customs, then I could make it a few hours away from my family home. They were so inspiring to me without them even knowing it. Looking at those around you and thinking about the daily issues they face can put it all into perspective when the days get long and hard.
The main thing to always remember is that quitting and returning to the familiar may be easy, but giving it your all and talking to the university throughout your struggles shows your determination. Even if you do end up changing courses or returning to your home town you can say without a shadow of a doubt that you tried your best, and you can guarantee that you will not look back at your time in university with sadness and regret. Persevering just a few more weeks can give you the clarity needed to make the best decision for you and your future. Ultimately, that is the most important thing to consider with every single decision you make during your academic career. It is vital to remember that university is not for everyone and what may work for you may not work for another and there should not be any shame in that.
To contact the University of Lincoln Student Wellbeing centre email: email@example.com or call: 01522 886400.