The world is a pretty weird place right now. With concepts such as ‘test, track and trace’; ‘self-isolation’ and ‘lockdown’ all being thrust upon us over the past few months, it isn’t easy getting up and moving on with life again. But that isn’t to say normal struggles don’t matter any more – if anything, dealing with them matters more, because letting that pile on top of you as well as everything else is a recipe for disaster. One such issue is homesickness, and this blog will talk about how to deal with it in a COVID world.
It’s okay to phone home…
Of course, one of the first thing to address is lockdowns, and the issue of travel. One of the things that I did as a homesick first-year was go home. This isn’t going to be anywhere near as easy now, if possible at all in some cases (Cardiff is locally locked-down at the time of writing).
But, having now gotten through an entire summer pretty much without in-person social contact, most students are now pros at Zoom (other brands are available!). So why not put those skills to good use? Calling family is normally the first port of call for a homesick student, but sometimes it can be even more helpful to phone your friends, too.
Your friends might be in the same situation as you (living away from home for the first time), or they could still be at home, but talking to them, even over the phone, can be a massive help.
… but don’t make it a habit
Over-reliance on having contact with home can be incredibly detrimental when trying to overcome homesickness, and although going ‘cold turkey’ might not be the best idea in terms of cutting contact completely, making sure calling home isn’t a habit is good: allow yourself to live your own life.
Home comforts that you can replicate at uni
Although you’re in a new environment, don’t be afraid to make it feel more like home if that helps you. There are things to take advantage of like FreePrints, so you can get photos of your friends around your room, but it can also help having small things like buying the same brand of soap for your uni room as you have at home.
There’s nothing wrong with sitting and accepting that you’re homesick. But after a while, it’s a good idea to get a little busier! Whether that’s joining a few societies (who would LOVE new members in the current climate!), going on walks either by yourself or with your flatmates, or even getting a job, being busy can be a really good way to take your mind off being homesick. Just be careful not to over-burden yourself.
Keep a routine
It’s important not to let yourself spiral. First year might not count towards your final grade for most courses, but it’s good practise to act as though it does. Stay on top of deadlines, keep a healthy sleep schedule and try to treat yourself like an adult as much as you can.
Explore your new surroundings
Another tip that might not be the easiest to get on with in a global pandemic… but (if you’re not locked down) exploring your new home can be really beneficial for any new student. That doesn’t just mean going to Lidl! For ideas of some lesser-known places to go in Cardiff, have a look at this list.
Be kind to yourself
This is the most important tip of all. It’s okay to not be okay. It may take weeks, or even months to feel better, but that’s okay. University at its best, though challenging, has potential to be the time of your life. We are living through a generational event, and nobody benefits from you beating yourself up for feeling homesick.
If you feel like talking to someone would help, then don’t be afraid to get in touch with charities too, all are free to call on these numbers. Samaritans: 116 123, The Mix: 0800 808 4994, Childline (if aged under 19): 0800 1111