Battling Nostomania: Survival Tips for Homesickness

Neha Lalchandani gives the low-down on how to escape those homesick blues.

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No matter how excited you may be about university life, even the most independent students can find themselves struck with homesickness. Research published by the Journal of American College Health entitled Homesickness and Adjustment in University Students in 2012 shows that many university students who are spending their first length of time away from home, represent a high-risk cohort for homesickness.

Moving away from home for the first time can make some students feel nostalgic. One can miss something as simple as their bed or mum’s hand-cooked dinner and end up with the irresistible compulsion to go back home.  For others, it’s not about missing home. It’s about missing what’s normal and comfortable, what one is used to and not quite being comfortable with the new way of life. This can be most difficult for international students who must adjust to a new culture as well.

So what can one do to cast away the intense feeling of homesickness and have an enjoyable university life at the same time? Here are some survival tips to busting nostomania!

  • Start with exploring the unique aspects of your new environment. There must be something about your new place that’s different from where you come from. It could be the stunning beaches, waterfalls, shopping centres, parks, community activities, less-jammed roads or the city lifestyle.
  • Concentrate on building an awesome university life. Join clubs and societies at university and look into volunteering opportunities on campus or in the community. Approach people and make new friends and perhaps take the first step to organise a hangout that you would enjoy together. This way, you’ll feel less lonely and there will be a storehouse of amazing memories for you!
  • Remember you may need to make more of an effort socially and not rely on it all just falling into place. Being all by yourself will just increase the urge of missing home and you might end up feeling low about the whole situation. Try leaving your door open when you’re lonely in your room- someone might pass by and say hello!
  • Talk to your loved ones, but not too much. It’s good to keep in contact with family and receive reassurance. However, limiting contact to a few times a week will make you become more present at college rather than dependent on contact with home. You’ll find it liberating to function as an independent young adult who enjoys every aspect of the new university life.
  • Don’t default to lying on the couch with a bag of chips, drinks and Foxtel. It’s easy to find yourself mooning around for days, weeks or longer. Instead, maintain your fitness routine or start a new one to keep those endorphins flowing.
  • Always remind yourself of your goals and ambitions that made you move away from home. Focus on what you want to achieve so you can put in your best without being upset by the idea of being away from home.
  • Remember that the worst thing you can do is sit in your room alone, sulking over yourself. If you feel homesick, chances are your roommate or the person who sits next to you in class is experiencing the same problem. Talk it out and support each other.
  • Keep in mind that you’re not alone and help is not far away. If you feel the need, talk to a counsellor about your feelings as they will listen objectively. Counselling services are available on campus in the Hunter Building at HA209, or alternatively, the university offers online counselling via Skype or Blackboard Instant Messenger.

So, anytime you feel homesick, make a goal of exploring a new area. Fill up your social calendar and hang out with people who have similar interests as you. The busier you are, the less time you have to think about homesickness and you can shift your focus to new friends, a new environment and new adventures.

Image: Ida Sorknes flickr, no changes made

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