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International Students

10 ways to deal with homesickness

No matter how excited you are to start university, it's natural to feel a bit homesick sometimes. We've got some great tips on what to do when you're missing home.

Woman in bed looking at phone

Credit: tommaso79 – Shutterstock

Moving away for university is a big transition, whether you've come from the other side of the world or half an hour down the road. If you're suffering from homesickness, just remember you're definitely not the only one.

Feeling homesick is really normal, especially in the first few months of university. Those around you are probably feeling the burn too, but are just keeping schtum.

To give you a helping hand, we've put together our top tips for getting over homesickness, so you can concentrate on making the most of your uni years.

Here are some useful websites for students that will help you settle in.

What to do when you're feeling homesick

Here are the best ways to handle homesickness:

  1. Let yourself be homesick for a bit

    sad pug in blanket

    This is perhaps the most important message of all, so we've put it right at the top of the list.

    Feeling homesick isn't a weakness, nor is it something to beat yourself up about. Missing home is something that affects most students. And you'll only make the situation worse if you think of it as something to feel guilty about.

    Let yourself be homesick for a bit. A good cry is good for the soul! But put a time limit on your wallowing.

    Give yourself 24 hours, and then pick up a phone and ask your new mates if they fancy a coffee. You could also try these relaxing self-care ideas.

  2. Go out and keep yourself busy

    It might be tempting to treat your room as your own little safe haven, but spending lots of time inside will only make the homesickness that much worse.

    Isolating yourself will make your feelings more intense, as you'll spend even more time thinking about what you miss from home.

    Try to keep yourself busy by organising day trips, studying at the library rather than in your room, getting a part-time job or even trying out some extracurricular activities.

    Getting a part-time job will also look great on your CV.
  3. Bring home comforts to university

    Whether it's your favourite teddy bear or a rag of a blanket that your nan gave you when you were seven, we all have objects that cheer us up when we're not feeling our best. Whatever your comfort things are, make sure you bring them to university with you.

    This is particularly important if you're studying abroad or you're on a gap year. Home comforts can massively help with feelings of homesickness while travelling.

    And don't be worried about getting stick for having cuddly toys in your uni bedroom. The chances are, your flatmates have theirs hidden away somewhere too.

  4. Keep in touch with home (but not too much!)

    woman smiling at phone

    Credit: WAYHOME studio – Shutterstock

    Whether it's a phone call, a WhatsApp group chat or a letter in the post, keeping in touch with your friends and family is important. It will help you feel more involved with what's going on back home.

    However, keeping in touch too much can actually make you feel the distance more. The trick is to not let it get to the stage where you're communicating with people back home more than you are with people at uni.

    Remember, your friends and family will still be waiting for you back home during the holidays. Try to focus on the here and now at uni.

    You can go back and visit any time. But, try not to go too close to the start of term, as it could make your homesickness worse.

  5. Stay off social media

    Similarly to our previous point, constantly checking the social media pages of your friends from home will do more harm than good. As will looking through photos of your bestie's banging 18th birthday on your own Instagram account.

    Limit your time on social media and turn off notifications on your phone. That way, you're not distracted by memories from home when you do find yourself perking up. Choose IRL over IG!

  6. Explore your new surroundings

    One of the main reasons we feel homesick is often to do with being in unfamiliar surroundings. That's why it's a great idea to set aside some time to explore your uni town or city so you'll feel more at home.

    In fact, not getting to know their uni city better is one of the biggest regrets we've heard previous students cite when they graduate.

    Go for walks, do some sightseeing, do voluntary work within the local community or just get to grips with what's available on your uni campus. You're only around for a few years, so now's the time to make the most of it.

  7. Don't compare yourself to other people

    One of the biggest myths about university is that every day is a wild party, where you'll enjoy minimal responsibilities and get drunk most nights of the week.

    It's easy to look at everyone else's Instagram and TikTok accounts and think you're not having as much fun as they are, or that you're doing something wrong. But don't forget that social media just shows a superficial snapshot of what people's lives are actually like.

    Try not to compare your uni experience to others, and don't expect every single day to be the best one of your life.

  8. Plan one nice thing for yourself a day

    Friends in Brick Lane London

    Credit: William Perugini – Shutterstock

    Staying positive can be a lot easier said than done. But making a concerted effort to carry a positive attitude around with you will help you to combat homesickness in a major way.

    Plan things into your day that you enjoy doing and can look forward to. This could be socialising with friends or a nice hot bath and an episode of your favourite show.

    Staying positive also makes you a pleasure to be around, so you'll probably find it much easier to make new friends (which also helps to keep homesickness at bay).

    That said, if you are struggling, don't feel as though you can't tell people you're unhappy. Friends and professional organisations are always on hand to help.

    If you're worried about making friends at university, we've got a whole guide with practical advice on how it's done.
  9. Ask for help

    The jump from school to university can be tough to get your head around at first, and there's no shame in asking for help. If you're having any issues with your course (or anything else for that matter) don't suffer in silence.

    If you're feeling homesick, worrying about your studies or your finances will only make things worse. It's best to take steps to sort any issues out or get support as soon as they arise.

    As well as approaching your lecturers directly, you'll also find that universities have counselling services available, which you can use if you need mental health support.

  10. Exercise

    When you're feeling down, it can be tempting to lie on the sofa watching romcoms while crying into a massive tub of Ben and Jerry's. However, doing this will likely make you feel worse.

    Keeping healthy (and fighting off that freshers' flu) will keep you feeling much more positive about life.

    Check out our list of low-cost fitness ideas if you need some inspiration on how to keep fit and happy on a budget.

Remember there's always help out there. If you're struggling with your mental health, there are services available at your university that are free to access.

Jake Butler

WRITTEN BY Jake Butler

Jake joined Save the Student in 2010 and is the COO. As an expert across student finance, Jake has appeared on The BBC, The Guardian, Which?, ITV, Channel 5 and many other outlets. He particularly enjoys sharing tips on saving money and making extra money with opportunities like paid surveys and part-time jobs.
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