How to cope with moving away from home

28 Feb 2022
By Ellie B, Student at

When I began my university journey, I thought I had prepared myself for the feelings I might experience.

I felt ready to embrace my new life and thrive! But what I didn’t anticipate was the loneliness I’d feel even when surrounded by new friends in a bustling city.

In September, I moved from a small town in Cornwall to the centre of Manchester; a 6-hour drive away from my home. Like many others, I felt both nervous and excited at the thought of meeting my new flatmates. After all, these were the people I was going to share my journey with!

Our bond grew throughout fresher’s week and beyond, but once everything calmed down and studying began, homesickness set in. I started missing my friends and family and feeling out of place. At times I wanted to drop out of uni, just so the feelings of loneliness would go away.

It became easier and easier to isolate myself; sometimes staying in my room for days at a time. I’d justify staying in my room and watching Netflix every night because it felt far too hard to socialise with new people. This habit was more damaging than I cared to admit, and it wasn’t until I spoke to my family that I realised something needed to change. Hiding in my room only made me feel more alone. I was focusing on the negative rather than the positive; on what I was missing rather than what I was gaining. It was this realisation that helped me make small changes that made an enormous difference to my happiness.

I began by sharing my feelings of homesickness. Doing so helped me realise that I wasn’t alone; nearly everyone I spoke to felt the same way! Moving away from home (no matter how far) is a daunting experience - but the most important thing to do is build a support network. Luckily, university is the perfect place to do this. It is filled with like-minded people who you can share your journey with.

The thought can be daunting, but joining a society is the easiest way to find people to connect with. Think about it this way: You have already found a common interest! It took me a while to feel comfortable enough to share my feelings with my new friends but, once I did, everything changed for the better. This vulnerability seems scary at first but being open about your thoughts and feelings shows strength.

After feeling more settled with my friendships at uni, I noticed I had started to take a ‘black and white’ approach to visiting home. I tried to make it through an entire term without visiting home, but this goal proved far too difficult and unnecessary. Sometimes all you need is some home comfort to keep you going. There is no use in pushing yourself to your breaking point. I found that having a trip home to look forward to gave me just the boost I needed during tough times.

Remember - moving to university isn’t a holiday, it is a long-term part of your life, and building a routine while you’re there is important in helping you settle in. I managed to build an effective morning routine where, instead of rolling out of bed, going to my lectures, and then retreating to the comfort of my room, I woke up early, meditated, ate a healthy breakfast, then went for a walk or to the gym.

It wasn’t easy, but ultimately worth it as my mind and body was then better prepared for studying and socialising. I could process my emotions in a healthier way, and it reminded me that I am in control of my life. I’m not saying that my waking-up routine is for everyone - you just need to find what makes you thrive.

This is YOUR unique journey. So embrace the change, take advantage of every opportunity you get to socialise, and remember, your feelings will get less intense with time.

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I am a Mathematics student in my first year of studies. Lover of dancing, Marvel, and passionate about mental health.