Victoria, student intern, shares some tips on avoiding and combatting feelings of homesickness this Easter break…
Though it may not seem like it from the suddenly deserted streets of Cathays, a lot of students stay in Cardiff during the Easter break. Whether it’s because they have a job here, can’t afford to go home, need to visit labs or archives or because they need to catch up on Uni work, you’re not alone.
If homesickness is common in the first term of Uni when there are a hundred things to distract you, it’s little wonder that it can get worse over the holiday period, when teaching hours have finished and especially if you’ve watched housemates march off with their suitcases trundling behind them to head home for the Easter break.
Homesickness can make you feel sad, lonely and helpless, but remember that this feeling is normal. You aren’t alone in feeling this way and there are lots of things you can do to feel better.
7 Tips to Tackle Homesickness this Easter
1. Plan your time
The best way to combat homesickness before it even starts is to plan your time. If you stay at home all week when your housemates have left, you may find homesickness strikes you that little bit quicker. Instead, be proactive: get your diary out and plan your time.
Staying in Cardiff over Easter gives you the perfect opportunity to get ahead on Uni work with minimum distraction, so take advantage of it! Set aside a few hours a day to get work done and try to leave the house to do it. Check the Easter Library opening times here, or head to a café or the Students’ Union. Doing your work in a separate space can help you to be more productive, and the walk there and back can help you get into the mindset of work or home.
Planning rewards such as cooking yourself a nice meal or inviting friends or family down for the weekend is also a good idea, as it will give you something to look forward to!
Take a look at my blog on 9 things to do this Easter for some ways to keep busy.
2. Be around people
Being around people will help you to feel less isolated. Getting out of the house is a good way to do this, but you could also try to meet up with any friends you know are staying in Cardiff over Easter as well. You could use social media to make contact with other Cardiff students via groups, clubs, societies or friends of friends, or arrange for friends or family to come visit.
3. Stay in touch with family and friends
Keeping in touch with family and friends is really important, especially if your staying in your student accommodation by yourself. Call, text or skype your family and friends on a regular basis. Snapchatting friends or setting up a group chat on Facebook or WhatsApp is a good casual way to joke about and stay in the loop about day-to-day stuff that you may feel like you’re missing out on.
4. Talk to someone, or write about how you’re feeling
If you do start to feel homesick, don’t bottle it up. By accepting the way that you feel and recognising it as homesickness, you are already helping yourself. Most people have experienced homesickness at some point, and accepting your feelings and talking about them will help you to get through it.
You could confide in a friend or family member, or get some perspective by speaking to one of our Counselling and Wellbeing Team who may understand a bit better that it’s not just as easy as going home, and can offer practical solutions to manage your homesickness.
If you feel a little uneasy about having a one-on-one appointment, you can also book now for wellbeing workshops, courses and groups in April, some of which will be running during the Easter break.
Writing about how your feeling, or sharing your nostalgia with friends can also help you feel better.
5. Keep familiar things around
Recognise the things that make you feel at home and try to bring that ‘homely’ feel to your student house. It can be familiar photographs, scents, colours or music that help you feel a bit more comfortable in your house. I always find keeping music or the TV on a low volume in the background helps my student house feel less starkly silent when my housemates go home for the weekend.
Cooking or baking familiar dishes can also help you feel closer to home. This is also a perfect activity for keeping busy and rewarding yourself.
6. Look after yourself
Spending Easter break in Cardiff may inevitably mean that you have more time alone. It’s undoubtedly different from being constantly busy and surrounded by housemates or course friends, but having more time to yourself is definitely not a bad thing!
Set yourself a goal like taking a half hour walk every day or training to jog 5km. Take time out to read that book or watch that series. Being deprived of the incredibly active social life of term-time will give you some time to focus on yourself and your wellbeing. Eat well, cook yourself some nice balanced meals and get a regular sleeping pattern again.
Check out our Easter Wellbeing Hunt blog for more about this.
7. Remind yourself
Remember all those reasons you came to Cardiff University or decided to stay for Easter. The change from home to university and from being busy to suddenly having lots of free time is hard, but it will all be worth it when you achieve your goals – whether that’s your degree, being ready for essays and exams or having enough money.
Need someone to talk to?
If you would like some extra support over the holidays (or anytime of year), please contact the Counselling Health and Wellbeing Service. The friendly team would be happy to listen to how you are feeling and offer practical solutions.
Contacting Counselling Health & Wellbeing
If you are experiencing any kind of emotional distress, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us, we offer support to anybody experiencing any sort of difficulty, however big or small.
Bookable appointments are available via our online referral questionnaire, in which our friendly, approachable staff can offer you non-judgemental support in a safe and confidential space. We also offer a daily Wellbeing Walk-In Service Monday–Friday 3 – 3.45pm and Wednesday mornings 9.30 – 10.15am at the Student Support Centre at 50 Park Place. We also hold a walk-in services at Student Support Centre in the Heath on Wednesday afternoons 3 – 3.45pm.
Watch our video and see for yourself that we have friendly and approachable staff. Staff who are able to listen to you non-judgmentally, in a safe and confidential space.
If you are worried that you are experiencing physical symptoms that may be affecting your health, we strongly advise you to make a GP appointment to discuss this. If you do not already have a GP, please contact NHS Wales on 0845 46 47 or check out their website to view all of your GP options.
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Victoria, student Intern.
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The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice and Money, Careers and Employability, Counselling, Health and Wellbeing, Disability and Dyslexia and International Student Support. The Student Support Centres are located at 50 Park Place, Cathays Campus and Cardigan House, Heath Park Campus.
For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.