After the initial excitement wears off it’s easy for new students staying far from home to start feeling homesick. Missing your family and friends is a normal feeling and one you will likely have with you for at least the first year you are away from home. Until you manage to conquer it for good there are a few things you can do to ease the symptoms of homesickness and make sure you wring the most out of university life at the same time.
The first trick may sound kind of flippant, but meeting others who are similar to you or who are going through the same thing as you is a great way to squash those feelings of loneliness. Meeting others is why living in a communal space like The Fields is a great choice for those who are spending their first year away from home as it’s very likely you will meet a lot of people who are doing the same thing.
Don’t be afraid to speak to those people in your class either. By sharing a class you already know you have some interests and similarities, which also gives you a great kicking off point to start a new conversation.
Diving into cultural or sporting activities is another good way to meet people like you so join clubs and attend the functions on offer at the university, that you think you might like.
For those who are feeling homesick a common reaction is to stay at home, tucked away in the safety of your flat. Being in Hatfield, The Fields is surrounded by plenty of places to go and things to do, and exploring the neighbourhood is a good way to give yourself something to do, while also getting you excited for this new lifestyle.
Don’t only limit yourself to coffee shops and restaurants though. Take a run, go to the Pretoria Zoo, or organise a picnic in the park with people you just met. Busying yourself with planning and doing something really can help you forget that you aren’t in your usual happy place. As a benefit, the more happy memories you build the quicker you will feel at home.
If it’s your first time living away from home, it can be tempting to do all the wild things you weren’t allowed to under your parent’s roof, and we are not suggesting you don’t do at least some of them. If you want to avoid homesickness your life will need some structure though. Start by setting an alarm in the morning and trying to get to bed at roughly the same time during the week. Planning which days are gym days and which days are cheat days is also an example of casual arrangements you can add to your life.
Adding this kind of organisation to your life will also help you to sleep well and give you a sense of order, both of which are important if you want to at least feel in control when the people you usually depend on aren’t around.
You live in a technological age. Whereas even 20 years ago moving away from home meant you lost touch with your loved ones and had to queue for a pay phone, these days WhatsApp and social media can connect you to everyone back home in a heartbeat. Want to speak to mom? Send her a message. You better believe she wants to talk to you.
Before you leave home think about the things you are going to miss and then make sure you bring it with you. Miss gogo’s special recipe for bread or soup, bring the recipe and make it whenever you feel far from home. Got a special poster or family photo, then make sure that’s framed and on your wall. Another great tip is to make a playlist of those cheesy songs your dad listens to all the time and have them on hand when the loneliness sets in. These things won’t help you avoid homesickness, but they will help you get over it quicker and will also help your new space feel more like home sooner.
Exercise is known to fire all those great endorphins that help you feel great, if you are feeling down. You don’t have to become a marathon runner to see the benefits either. Going for a short run, cycle or even jog around the parking lot can give you the boost you need. Better yet why not take up a team sport or play something with someone you just met and get the added boost of making a new friend as well. While we are on the topic of sport – go ahead and read our blog Sport can teach us so much.
Sitting down to express how you feel and share the details of your life in Pretoria with someone back home will help you work through all the sad feelings that much quicker. In fact, studies show you don’t even need to send the mail to gain the feeling of getting something off your chest. If you do actually send it, there is a good chance your loved-one will write back, and you will feel closer to them than ever. If you aren’t good at writing, start by telling the person you are writing to what your plans are for the day or exactly what you are feeling at that moment; end the mail by talking about the things you have achieved since you arrived and the stuff that you are proud of. Leaving it off on a good note will definitely lift your spirits.
At the end of the day, know that you are going to miss your home, but this feeling is temporary, and you don’t have to suffer it alone. At The Fields you can spend time in the communal spaces, play foosball, and chess or just relax in the chill area and meet new people and share your feelings. You are only at university a very short time and will want to experience everything it has to offer. You can’t do that if you are only in your room feeling homesick.
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