When I chose to come to Plymouth University, I knew that it would be a big move. I come from a village in Bedfordshire, so about 5 hour’s drive from Plymouth, and living in a village means that the people that I grew up with don’t tend to move very far from home. So, when I said I was moving to Plymouth, everyone first asked where it was and secondly asked how far away it was! I don’t think it hit me until I was literally in the car on the way to Plymouth on moving-in day, and for a split second I thought I couldn’t do it anymore – I couldn’t imagine my parents driving all the way home and leaving me in Plymouth, and the thought of visiting home in a month or two seemed too far away. And yet, during fresher’s week and starting my course, I didn’t even think about home. Some days I would miss home so much and other days I didn’t even want to think about going home for a whole 3 weeks at Christmas.
I wanted to write this blogpost in the hope that someone who’s perhaps feeling homesick, or someone that is planning to move to University and is worried about moving from home, will understand what it is like a bit. It is completely normal to miss home, and University is a lot of changes all at once – new surroundings, new friends, new course, new experiences, and the list goes on. I’m now coming towards the end of my Second year at Plymouth, and even though I still miss home sometimes, Plymouth doesn’t feel nearly as far from home as it did at first. It is normal to take a bit of adjustment before you feel completely settled in. I hardly ever feel homesick anymore, but I still look forward to going home sometimes and that’s ok too! I thought I would list some things that helped me feel better when I was adjusting to living away from home:
1. Keep yourself busy and occupied.
It is really easy to think about home and dwell on how far away you are, or how long until you next go home, if you’re not doing anything. A lot of people have very full-on courses so your busy all the time anyway! In our first year (Fine Art and Art History), we had quite a lot of independent time, and while I wanted to just have days where I was in my room relaxing, this was when I felt the most homesick. I try to make an effort to keep busy, whether this is making plans with friends or just walking up to the Hoe for a bit of headspace. Guaranteed, you’ll feel better afterwards. Try getting a job at the University if you have a lot of free time, I recently became a Student Ambassador and I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner!
2. Talk to your friends, course mates and flatmates.
Everyone at University is in the exact same boat. Whether someone comes from a different country, the other side of the UK or just a few hours away, they will miss home at some point in their University experience. When you realise that someone feels exactly the same as you, it assures you that it’ll be okay. Whether that’s someone at home or in the room next to you.
3. Arrange weekly Skype calls home.
I still do this in my second year and I love it! Skyping my family makes me feel like I’m at home with them, and I enjoy hearing about what they have been up to and telling them what I’ve been getting up to too. Skyping friends at other Universities is really fun too, you can show each other around your digs and share all your experiences. It is easy to lose contact with some people from home, so if you put the effort in to stay in contact it will be worth it!
4. Plan trips home in advance, and write it on your calendar!
This firstly makes the trains a lot cheaper! And secondly gives you something to look forward to. It’s funny because when I now go home for the weekend once in a while, as much as I enjoy it, I look forward to coming back to my house in Plymouth too. As the years go by at University, you realise how quickly it goes and how important it is to enjoy yourself and not worry about being away from home.
So, if I could go back and tell myself one thing when I was missing home in first year, I would say it will get better. The slightly low times make the good times even better. Chances are, next time you actually go home, after a few days you’ll miss Plymouth and want to come back!
Stay positive, and remember that you are not the only one! :)