Keep Fresh is qmunicate’s survival guide series to freshers’ week – from halls to hangovers, moving to mental health, your big auntie qmunicate is here to get you through.
The transition and process of moving to university is an experience that cannot quite be separated from the inevitability of feeling homesick that it carries with it. Whether you’ve just gotten off your flight coming from North America or Asia, or you’re getting a lift from Motherwell or Lanark, chances are you will feel homesick in some measure of its varying degrees. However, as cliché as it sounds (and is) – this feeling is very normal, everyone else is experiencing it, and it will unquestionably come to an end.
Homesickness, at its core, is essentially the feeling that comes with a loss of routine, a change in surroundings, and new patterns, and the unfamiliarity and uncertainty that comes with all of these big changes. Homesickness can be a longing for your family home, for your school friends, for your now long-distance partner, for your pets, for your hometown, or maybe just for the version of yourself that you knew before moving to university accompanied by a congregation of nerves and anxieties. To reiterate, homesickness for one of / all of the above is okay, normal, and not long-term.
There is no one cure for homesickness, but there is array of coping methods which can help you to adapt to your new life. The most important thing is to not lock yourself away in your room, dreaming about what you would be doing if you were back at home right now, but rather to try your best to adjust to your new home – both your new bedroom and flatmates, and to your new city. If you are settling into student accommodation, it is really important to get to know your flatmates as soon as possible; they might not necessarily be your best friends, but their company is essential to help manage your homesickness, just as your company is there to help them. It might seem small, but just sitting in your living room, or your new bedroom, having a cup of tea and chatting, even making some plans for freshers’ week together, can really make all the difference.
Other methods of dealing with homesickness is to get to know your new city. It might sound simple, but I know how daunting it is to move away from the familiarity of where you’ve grown up, to a brand new city (even one as gorgeous and friendly as Glasgow). Whilst it’s undoubtedly the best option to stay on campus during freshers’ week – getting to know your way around, taking part in activities designed just for you – after that first week I recommend that you go exploring and take advantage of what marvels Glasgow has to offer: walk around the city, from the pub-abundant Sauchiehall Street, to Glasgow’s style mile, Buchanan Street. Try to find something personal to you that you can translate to your new city, whether it be sports or shopping. For me, trips to the cinema aided my homesickness, as films have always been a massive passion of mine and by taking myself out to the cinema I was transporting myself away from being homesick in a new city, to feeling right at home in one of my favourite environments: I was very lucky as well as Glasgow offers many cinemas including the gorgeous GFT, the quaint Grosvenor, or the world’s tallest cinema, Cineworld Renfrew Street.
Staying in touch with family and friends from home is imperative, however the important thing is to not think of it as though you have been taken out of your situation with them, but rather you are still very much a part of that situation, you are simply now seeing it from a new perspective.
Finally, whilst my experience will be vastly different from yours, I will leave you with what I hope to be a comforting anecdote: when I first came to Glasgow, I felt homesick for the familiarity of my friends, my family, my city – however after just one semester of rediscovering what the definition of home can be, I went back to my hometown for Christmas and realised I now felt homesick for the absolute belter that is the city of Glasgow.
[Ellen Magee – @mondaymagee]