We know that starting university is a really exciting time, but as with any big adjustment in our lives, it can also feel quite challenging and overwhelming at times. As a result this is a time when many of you may feel a bit homesick - we caught up with Hannah Davies, Student Wellbeing Coordinator here at BU, for her advice on coping with homesickness and tips on adjusting to uni life.
Is it normal to feel homesick?
“It’s perfectly natural to feel homesick throughout your studies and especially when you have just started. You’re in a completely different environment with lots of new people around, and the reality of how much work there is to do may have dawned on you.
Homesickness can also feel very lonely. You can feel that everyone around you is adapting far quicker and easier than you are. Research shows that 50-70% of new UK students suffer from homesickness to some extent within in their first two or three weeks so you are not alone.
One of my main tips for adjusting to any new environment is back to basics - establishing routine is essential! Make sure you are eating well (occasional treats are good too!), sleeping enough and engaging in some form of meaningful activity. Exercise is a great activity – even a brisk walk, exploring your new surroundings will be enough to give you a bit of a boost.
You also want to make sure you have a balance of some time on your own but also some time with other people. It can feel a bit strange pushing yourself into new environments trying to make friends. In your accommodation, try leaving the door open to allow for passing conversations with your flatmates or invest in a stash of tea and biscuits for a group chat in the kitchen. It may not always be your flatmates you click with the most. Try inviting a course mate for a coffee or to a social space to talk about your latest lecture, or have a look at the variety of clubs and societies on offer at BU."
Where can I find out more?
Most people will find that the unpleasant symptoms of homesickness will fade with time. If you have tried a lot of the tips and things just aren’t improving, do consider getting a bit of extra support.
You could also check out my Q&A piece on creating a sense of wellness too.”
What support is available at BU?
“One thing I’m recommending to students who are visiting me at the moment is to sign up to the ‘Big White Wall’ with your email account (you don’t need your BU login details for this).
Big White Wall (BWW) is a digital mental health support service which is available for free to BU students, online, 24/7. You can join a supportive online community, take part in a group course and take self-assessments. Professionally trained Wall Guides monitor the community to ensure the safety and anonymity of all members.
There are a range of services available on campus to help you overcome homesickness and feel a part of the BU community. Why not speak to SportBU about trying a new sport or exercise class, talk to the library staff if you’re worrying about a failed or future assignment or book an appointment with the careers and placements teams if you need help with your placement.
Getting practical advice can often reduce stress, so speak with AskBU if you’re not sure where to go for the best help.
If you’re struggling with prolonged feelings of homesickness, stress, anxiety or any other mental health difficulties and feel it is time to seek some further help, you are able to register with Student Wellbeing.
Student Wellbeing offers a completely free and confidential service. Our Wellbeing Advisors can help you with a wide range of issues including stress, homesickness, low mood and anxiety. They can also help you access wider support services such as for eating disorders, drug and alcohol use, sexual health and bereavement. To access us you will first need to register, using our registration form which you can download from the Student Wellbeing section of the website. Complete the registration form and either email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or drop it in to our reception in Talbot House during opening hours.
We’ll then invite you an initial assessment appointment - this is a half hour chat where you can discuss your situation and get some initial support. Your Wellbeing Advisor will help you decide the best support option for you and talk you through what happens next.
If you’re not sure about registering, have a quick question, want to find out more about the service or are worried about a friend, you’re welcome to come along to one of our drop-in sessions. Our drop-ins take place during term time on Tuesday’s 3:30 - 4:30pm and Thursday’s 12:30 – 1:30pm.
Opening hours and more information can be found on our website.”
Our Student Wellbeing service is run by Bournemouth University in partnership with Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust. Opening hours and more information can be found on our website.