Moving away from home is a big step, especially if you’re also moving cities and therefore leaving the comfort of your existing routines and friendships. Everyone misses something about home, and while it can be daunting, there is also a lot to gain. Try these tips to help ease the transition:
Bring a bit of home with you
Whether that’s photographs of your friends, posters from your walls, a duvet or other items you had in your room at home, try to bring a few touches from home in to your new room so that you feel less cut off from the past.
Remember you’re not alone
If you’re leaving home to head to university, many of the people around you will be in exactly the same position. That means that everyone is trying to adjust and make new friends, and that you’ve instantly got something in common.
Talk to strangers
Chances are they will be open to talking with you, but may not know how best to start the conversation. Especially take opportunities to talk to others in your lectures and tutorials. At the least, you know that you have something in common or a shared interest based on the fact you are taking the same paper.
Moving in to a halls of residence?
Try leaving your door open and make an effort to say hi to people coming past. They may stop to talk, or at least be more likely to approach you later to talk if you seem friendly and open.
Try new things
Try out some new activities or places that you wouldn’t necessarily have done at home. This time in your life is a great opportunity to figure out what you like and what you don’t. As a start, what activities are offered for O-week or available through the university?
Gain some control
Make what choices you can to give you a sense of control. You probably have fixed core classes, but choose your electives and plan your schedule to work for you as much as possible. Try to visit the university for open day before you start, get a map and find out where your classes are. These little things will help you to feel less out of your depth.
Establish a routine that suits you
Join a gym or sports club based on your interests. These activities are great ways to meet people, and will help you to feel more established in your new city.
Expect it to take a while to find your place
It’s really common that the people you hang out with over the first few weeks or months after a move to Uni won’t necessarily be your long-term friends. Everyone is trying to figure out where they fit and find ‘their people’. This is completely normal, so be open to new things and flexible to change.
Keep in touch
It takes a while for new friendships and relationships to develop. Keep in touch with the important people to you from home to avoid feeling isolated. Research shows that the quality of our relationships online are much poorer than in person, so replicate in person contact as best you can by video calling.
You will be busy, and so will your friends
If most of your friends have also moved away to university in different places, expect that they will be busy with new things too. It can be hard to find time that works to catch up with each other. Know that this doesn’t mean that they’ve forgotten you or made new, better friends, even though it can feel this way on those lonely days.
Be kind to yourself
It is entirely normal and to be expected that you will have times where you feel overwhelmed by all the change, and times when you feel lost and lonely. Many people have a tendency to try to ignore and deny these feelings. It is more helpful for your mental health to identify these feelings and why you are feeling this way, and to offer the same kindness to yourself that you might give to a friend who is having a hard time. Is there something enjoyable you can do for yourself to help things feel less ‘doom and gloom’, for example contact a friend, go to the gym, watch a show or movie you like?
Your feelings might catch you off guard
It can take a while for the reality of the changes in your life to kick in. Often when people are getting ready to move away, they’re so busy making plans, packing, and saying farewells, that the reality doesn’t sink in until you’re in a new place with bags unpacked and nothing left to do!
There will always be some surprises
For some it’s learning how to cook for themselves, or finding that you can’t afford some of the foods you took for granted in your parents house, or having to do your own laundry. Many changes come with the move to living independently, and many of them you won’t have even thought of!
Research has suggested that approximately 7% of people will experience intense homesickness on leaving home, associated with symptoms of anxiety and depression. If this is you, know that you’re not alone. Talk to friends and family members that you trust, and seek out support through student counselling services.