Written by Sarah Stacey
MA Radio Production
Homesickness is something that affects many students, and not just those who have travelled hundreds of miles to university. Even if you only live a short distance away, you’ll probably miss home at some point. You might even feel fine at the beginning, but suddenly start feeling homesick after you’ve settled in. As postgraduate students, many of us will have lived and studied away from home before, but that doesn’t mean we won’t still experience homesickness from time to time. Starting all over again in a new place is bound to make us feel a little bit overwhelmed sometimes. It’s all completely normal, and there are lots of ways to deal with it.
Coming from Ireland, I’ve had the experience of moving to another country while still only being an hour’s flight away. I didn’t have to deal with culture shock like a lot of other international students do. But there are still times when I’ve felt homesick. Missing my family has been the main aspect of this. I’ve always been very close to my parents and am used to sharing everyday life with them, so sometimes it’s difficult not to be able to do that.
I surprised myself with how quickly I adapted to life in Bournemouth. I think that coming straight from undergraduate study helped make the transition easier, and when people asked me if I was homesick, I said, “Not really, no.” However, when I came back to Bournemouth after the Christmas break, I found it very difficult for a few days. Maybe it was because I’d spent three weeks at home and had to readjust, but I suddenly felt unexpectedly homesick. It goes to show that even if you’re used to being away, sometimes it’s still emotionally tough.
The view of Dublin from the plane back to Bournemouth
Keeping in regular contact with family and friends helps a lot. Skype and Face Time are brilliant for this. Being able to call home and keep everyone updated on what’s going on helps me maintain that link, and sometimes when I’m having a bad day there’s just no substitute for some family words of wisdom!
It may sound obvious, but keeping busy is also key to beating homesickness. The more time you invest in your new surroundings, friends and studies, the happier you’ll feel overall. If you’re already feeling vulnerable, being isolated will only make you feel worse. Reach out to those around you and talk about how you feel. I can guarantee there is someone else who’s also feeling a bit down or homesick.
I think the most important thing to remember is that it’s okay to feel this way. Don’t assume you shouldn’t because you’re a postgraduate student, or if your home isn’t very far away. You’re allowed to miss things and people you’ve left. It’s a natural part of life and being a student. Just make sure you look after yourself and do the things that make you happy, and if you’re struggling, there’s always someone who can help.
By Sarah Stacey