How to deal with homesickness

Thursday 3 September 2020, International students

by UCAS

How to deal with homesickness

Relevant to
UCAS

Feeling homesick whilst attending university in the UK is an entirely normal feeling. You are probably moving out of your family home for the first time, living with new people and often living in a country you’ve never visited before. For some, homesickness is just missing your home and family in the first week, but for others it can affect their mental health.

Luckily, for many these feelings will pass and you will soon be too busy with new friends and classes to feel homesick, but here are some tips on how to deal with homesickness.

Find a restaurant that serves food from your country
It may take you some time to adjust to new foods and eating habits and everyone, no matter where they come from , misses their mother’s cooking. Fortunately, the UK is a multicultural country and you should have no trouble finding a restaurant that serves all your favourite dishes. If not, cook something you miss from home and share it with your new friends. Your housemates, classmates and new friends will probably love to hear more about your culture, including tasting your favourite foods.

Decorate your room
It’s hard to feel at home when your walls lack any personal touches. Even if you can’t make permanent changes to your new room, you can still make it feel more like a home. Have photos of friends and family up on display, bring your favourite things from home like bedding and put up posters on the wall. Buy lights, cushions, and trinkets to help make your new room feel like home.

Exercise or join a sports team
Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and can improve a negative mood, plus you can meet new friends. If you can, join a class or a team. Universities will have a broad range of sports and fitness teams to join from yoga to dodgeball and football. Try to make exercising part of your regular routine, even gentle exercise will release endorphins in your brain that will help you feel happier, concentrate more and sleep better. 

Make friends from your home country
As well as making British friends you’re most likely to meet people from your country and it’s great to hangout with them on the days you just want to talk to someone who understands exactly how you are feeling. Having friends from your home country who can speak your language and understand all your jokes and cultural references makes a huge difference. Your university or local community may have a social media page dedicated to people from your home country and hold events in local restaurants and bars.

Do the things you loved to do at home
Going to university in the UK doesn’t have to mean giving up the things you loved in your home country. Check if your university has a club or society dedicated to something you love, whether this is videogames, sports or movies. University is about learning new things, as well as pursuing things you enjoy. You may meet people who share the same passions and hobbies as you, through societies and meet-up groups.

Call home (but not too much)
Don’t stop yourself from calling home totally, as this will make the homesickness even worse. Start by calling, texting or video calling every other day and then you will find it naturally decreases when you begin to make new friends and get busier with your studies. Avoid staying up all night talking to your family and friends if they live in a different time zone, you may miss out on making new friends and be too tired in the daytime to concentrate on your studies. 

Give yourself time and seek help
If you don’t love university the second you step on to campus, that is okay. It will take you time to settle into a new country, new lifestyle and new culture. University is a big life adjustment for any student, even more so for international students. 

If your homesickness is getting to a point where you are finding it difficult to cope, then don’t feel ashamed to speak to someone about it. Most universities will have counselling services that you can turn to for advice and support.