How to find services and support
Starting university can be challenging. It’s a time of change and could be the first time that you’ve had to be properly responsible for yourself. You may have had high expectations about how great it would be, but the reality did not match your expectations.
At BU we strive to make the start of university fun and exciting by offering you lots of activities and events to help you settle in and make new friends. However, we also know that it’s very common to feel homesick.
Homesickness can be quite a personal feeling that not everyone feels comfortable talking about, so there's a chance those around you are feeling the same way. They just aren’t sharing their feelings.
What is homesickness?
You may experience both physical and emotional symptoms, but homesickness ususally involves feeling upset due to missing friends and family - especially if you are living far away from home. It can also mean not coping with a new routine - either looking after yourself for the first time or starting your studies, as well as finding it hard to make new friends on your course or in your accommodation.
What causes homesickness?
From the moment we are born we make emotional bonds with people, things and places. Gradually these bonds build up to form a hopefully stable environment.
When we leave home, we experience a sense of real loss, a bit like grief if a friend or someone else close to us dies. Like grief this loss is natural and usually resolves itself over time. However, it is possible for this loss either to “get stuck” or to be particularly intense.
The problem is that many people tend to judge themselves harshly, because they think that they should be able to cope but cannot. Homesickness is not a sign of weakness. You might be surprised as to how many other students feel like you do. It can also make it hard to concentrate on your work and studies, as a lesser-known symptom of homesickness can mean that you find it hard to learn new skills.
Some groups of people are particularly prone to feel homesick; you are more likely to feel this if you:
- Suffer from anxiety or depression
- Are particularly close to your family or worried about a family member
- Have experienced a recent loss
- Are an international student, who feels a long way from home, and are struggling to deal with a very different culture.
Support within BU
Most students find their homesickness fades and do not need formal wellbeing support. However, if homesickness is affecting your ability to take part in social or academic activities, you can always contact our support services on campus: the Achieve@BU team, Student Wellbeing and Faith & Reflection.
The University Retreat provides a safe space if you feel that you are struggling to cope and need help. You don't need an appointment; just pop in and talk to one of our friendly team, it's open from Monday to Saturday, 2pm - 9pm.
If you're in BU accommodation our ResLifeBU team are there to support your wellbeing and organise events. Our Student's Union, SUBU, offers lots of social opportunities with clubs, societies and volunteering. For our international students Faith & Reflection run Global Café which is an informal, relaxed gathering to meet others and make new friendships.
If the difficulty of the course has come as a shock, seek help. University study can be different to your previous learning experience. Your Personal Tutor, PAL leader or the Study Skills team can help you adjust to new ways of learning.
There is plenty of professional support available, including:
- Don't give yourself a hard time. Lots of students are feeling the same way and it is perfectly normal
- Make your new room your own by decorating it with familiar things from home. But don’t spend too much time alone in your room!
- Meet new people. You could join a club, society, the University Music Choir, get a part-time job or sign up for volunteering. It’s difficult to make the effort when you’re feeling down, but making new contacts will help. Keeping busy will help take your mind off your homesickness too
- Get out and about and explore the local area. Bournemouth, Poole and the surrounding area has loads to offer so take the time to find out about it
- Plan things into your day that you enjoy doing and can look forward to, whether it's socialising with friends or a nice hot bath and episode of Bake Off
- Stay in touch with family but give yourself time to settle in before arranging a visit home, as it may make your homesickness worse. Invite friends and family to visit you instead
- Be realistic about what to expect from university life. Sometimes not everything falls into place at once, but many students go on to have a fantastic time once they adjust
- Make sure you get enough sleep and try to eat a healthy diet. This is really important as if you’re already feeling a bit down this can have a huge impact on your mood. If you are going to drink alcohol don’t overdo it.