Missing home? I did too. Here’s how I settled in

03 Nov 2021
By Sarah R., Student at University of Edinburgh

My time as an undergraduate was coming to an end and I could not wait to start the next chapter of my life – studying for a postgraduate degree. For four years of undergraduate life, I’d stayed at home and commuted every day.

I was 22, more than capable of looking after myself and relishing the independence.

The prospect of moving away from home was really exciting. I would no longer feel like the only person in class still living with their parents. I was 22, more than capable of looking after myself and relishing the independence.

Moving day eventually came and I was ready to go. I spent the day wandering around my new city with my parents and looked forward to exploring and meeting new people.

But, in the first few days, I felt an overwhelming pang of loneliness. All I wanted to do was go back to the comfort of my own home, to feel a sense of familiarity.

Why things eventually fell into place

When the days turned into months, I felt embarrassed to talk about it. I felt that, at 22, I shouldn’t want to speak to my parents every day. I felt like a failure, and I didn’t know how to get over my homesickness.

Then everything changed one day a couple of months later. I woke up and no longer wanted to be back home. I finally felt everything fall into place.

Was it a coincidence that I felt less homesick after a couple of months? Not entirely. There’s definitely some truth in the phrase, ‘Time heals all wounds.’

But it wasn’t just the passing of time. Without realising it, I’d been doing little things to take care of myself and feel more connected. After a bit of time, this paid off.

How to speed up the settling-in process

  • Distract yourself - Your coursework will probably take care of this for you. But try to take opportunities to make new friends, even if it means forcing yourself out of your comfort zone.
  • Get to know your flatmates better - There’s a good chance they’ve felt the same as you do, at some point. Spend time having fun with your flatmates, you’ll all feel closer and more supported.
  • Talk to someone - They say a problem shared is a problem halved. If you have a close friend or flatmate, try to talk about how you feel. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, you can speak anonymously to somebody at Nightline.
  • Make a daily plan - Write down what you want to do every day. List small, manageable tasks. You’ll feel a sense of purpose, achievement and direction.
  • Join clubs or societies - What are you interested in? I can guarantee your university has a society for it. Join it, you’ll become so busy having fun and meeting new people that you won’t have time to over-think!
  • Go outside your flat every day - Even if it’s just to get fresh air. Do something that makes you happy if you can. For me, it was walking around the shops or going for a short run.

At the time, I felt my homesickness was a sign of being weak and I was ready to consider moving back home and commuting to university from there. But I persevered and I’m glad I did, because I have come out stronger for it.

If you’re feeling homesick, do not feel embarrassed. It happens to lots of people and it does get easier. But try not to rely on time alone, look after yourself as much as you can by staying active and open to new experiences.

I was 22, more than capable of looking after myself and relishing the independence.
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Sarah is studying MSc Environmental Sustainability at the University of Edinburgh.