Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Homesickness

When applying to universities, distance wasn't something I gave much consideration. I mean, it was a slight factor in my choices but ultimately, I cared about going to a good university, somewhere fairly nice and where I really liked the course. Looking back over my time at university so far, I don't regret my choice. In fact, I couldn't be happier being in the North West; going to a university with an amazing geography department; being somewhere new where I can explore great places like the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, Arnside and Silverdale, the Fylde Coast. But something I didn't anticipate when I applied was how homesick I would feel.

It’s a strange thing leaving home. Some of us can't wait for the day, others dread it. I seemed to swing between the two, staying for longer periods of time on the latter the closer it came to the day itself. As a young teen and even up to age 17 or so, I'd always dreamed of that time I could be independent, live by myself away from my dad. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my dad to pieces but he can be somewhat difficult to live with at times. During those times, I'd get comfort from the idea of moving out but as I got older, those times seemed to become less frequent, maybe because I stopped being a grumpy hormonal teenager, maybe because my dad got a little better or maybe a mix of both. So when fresher’s hit, I was apprehensive to say the least.

The first term of University was a whirlwind of blurred new faces, nights out, trying out various societies and sports, going to lectures, tutorials, balancing the budget to allow a somewhat healthy lifestyle yet also to accommodate all other expenses. My brain was constantly overwhelmed by new new new so I didn't have time to feel homesick. The next thing I knew it was time to go home for Christmas and see the family, the friends and generally catch up with everyone I'd not seen for months.

It wasn't until second term hit that things changed. The newness of everything faded and deadlines piled up, friends true colours began to shine, time became a limited resource and I dedicated myself to one club only,, and no longer accepted every request for a night out. It was during this period of second term when I finally had some time to think and I realised that who I'd been during the first term hadn't truly been myself, who I'd made friends with weren't really people I could trust, I'd barely visited any of the places I'd promised myself I would and I'd been doing things that weren't giving me any fulfilment. It was at this point that the homesickness struck. I missed my family and their unwavering support. I missed my true friends, the ones who really knew me and liked me for me, not some version of myself that I'd felt pressured to be. I also missed the feeling of having a life that exists in one place. Neither university nor my family home truly felt like home, I was a split person who felt like she was living a split life.

So I felt alone, and sad, and slightly stressed but luckily I had Skype so I could keep in contact with the people I was missing. Things weren't so bad but I kept myself holed up in my room, avoiding people as much as I could and that too didn't feel right. So I decided it was time to redo myself. Make some new friends, focus on those who I felt comfortable to be myself around, do things I enjoyed, visit places I've always wanted to go that were nearby and focus more on studying and learning. And also importantly, keep in regular contact with those I really missed. Things finally started to look up and for the most part, they stayed that way.

Being homesick is a natural part of moving away and starting somewhere new. Homesickness can manifest itself in all sorts of ways and that’s okay. Recognise it, take steps to manage it and most importantly, don't let it prevent you from doing the things that you love. Use it as an encouragement to do great things that will fulfil you and make you happy as ultimately, your happiness is a big factor in determining your level of homesickness.







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