Freshers Week hype promises the best, most fun, and most exciting week of our lives, and in some ways this is true. There are new people to meet, new places to visit and new friends to be made. What people fail to mention is that Freshers Week is also strange, scary, and for a lot of people underpinned by loneliness and homesickness. For most students this is the first time we've ever lived away from our parents, friends, hometown, and everything that's familiar to us. Homesickness is normal, and perhaps inevitable, and however much other people look like they're having the time of their lives, they're almost definitely feeling a bit homesick too. Here's a short guide on how to make the best of Freshers Week, and combat homesickness as much as possible:
- Keep busy: You'll almost certainly feel at your worst when you're alone in your room, giving yourself time to think about home and feel really lonely. Try to keep your door wedged open and seem approachable. Knock on other people's doors and have a chat or suggest you watch a film together- they'll probably be grateful that you've made the first move. Offering to make everyone a cup of tea is a good way to open up a conversation. Join sport teams and social societies to make sure you always have something to do.
- Phone home regularly, but not too often: If you're really missing home it may be tempting to spend every evening on the phone to your parents or friends. Keep in regular contact with home through texts and short daily phone calls, but long phone calls more than once or twice a day may just make you feel worse. However much you wish you were at home, you do need to try and make the best of the situation you're in- make friends and try to enjoy yourself rather than spending hours on the phone home.
- Talk to other people about how you're feeling: Chances are the people around you are feeling exactly the same way as you. If you're feeling homesick, be honest and tell your new friends that you're feeling down. If you're lucky they'll try to cheer you up and reassure you that you're not the only one feeling homesick. It can be such a comfort to know that you aren't alone, and opening up to people will strengthen your new friendships too.
- Set a date for when you're visiting home, and stick to it: If you're feeling really homesick it may be tempting to run home at the first opportunity, but the first few weekends of uni are when friends are made and you really settle in. If possible, set a date a few weeks into term at minimum to visit home or for your family to visit you. If you can wait a bit longer then set a date towards the middle of term. If you live too far away to visit then keep the date of the Christmas holiday in your mind, and rather than thinking how far away it seems, look forward to it. Think of it as a goal you have to reach, and try and have as much fun as you can until then.
- Don't give up: It might be tempting to think about leaving, beg your parents to come and pick you up, or even quit your course altogether. It's never going to be easy leaving home for the first time, and the decision to leave uni can't be made within the first couple of weeks. Even if you make no friends initially or hate your course, there's no way that you can make the right decision without giving uni a full try first. Wait until Christmas to see how things settle down before taking drastic action, you could end up walking away from an amazing opportunity, not to mention wasting thousands of pounds on pre-paid uni fees.
- Things will get better: There must be a reason why uni is referred to as 'the best time of your life'. Things will pick up, you will make friends and you won't feel homesick forever. Everyone has to move away from home at some stage, and whenever you do that it won't be easy. The first few weeks might feel like a terrible struggle, but once you settle down and get used to living away you'll wonder what all the fuss was about :)