Moving away from home for university can be tough. Even if you are always out and about meeting new people and enjoying student’s life to the fullest, there’ll be bad days. Days you wish you could close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, then open your eyes and magically find yourself back at home, with your family and your friends. And trust me, we all have these moments, no matter how much we might have wished to get away and start this new chapter in our lives.
I had been looking forward to moving to a different country to do my MA for months, but when I sat in my new room, empty and soulless with its bare walls and the ugly mismatched furniture, and just nothing at all like home, I felt unhappy. Worried. Out of place. What if I had made a mistake? I longed for my room in the flat I had lived most of my life, with its blue walls, the piles of books and the mess of pens and sketchbooks spreading all over the floor, making it a nightmare to hoover. This room here in Lincoln didn’t feel anything like that (and not only because it was too tidy and the floor was a hoover-paradise). It wasn’t home. Worse: it was a stranger’s room, just four walls without the tiniest bit of personality.
And then, just in time before the creeping loneliness and a subtle panic could overwhelm me, I realised what I had to do. I unpacked my suitcase, and after a while, I found what I had been looking for – the stack of photographs I had printed out last minute the night before my flight. My sister wearing her pink unicorn onesie. My brother sipping a cocktail. My parents smiling, the mountains glowing in the evening sun behind them. My best friend pretending to be a pirate. I couldn’t help smiling, and it made me feel a lot better just to look at them.
As soon as I had put the pictures up on the wall next to my bed, the room felt different, warmer, a little more alive. Within a few moments, this handful of photographs had managed to start transforming the room into my room.
Of course, decorating your room with posters, nice pillows and whatever you need to make you feel comfortable there (lots of books and lots of stationary all over the place, in my case) will help, too – the key to beating the horrible feeling of being lost and lonely is to make this new room into your own little home, even if it’s just for a year. But whatever you do, make sure you leave enough space for photographs: for old ones to remind you that your friends and family are always there for you, and for new ones to remind you that your life in Lincoln, far away from home, is actually pretty amazing.