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Top tips for dealing with homesickness

15 April 2021

Moving to the UK’s biggest and most vibrant city to study is a hugely exciting time and may feel very different to your home life. To help you adjust, UCL student Isabelle Osborne gives her 7 top tips on how to cope with homesickness.

Top tips for dealing with homesickness

Moving to university is simultaneously exciting and daunting. It’s likely the first time you’re living away from home for an extended period, in what may be a completely different part of the country (if not the world). 

It is understandable that you may at times feel homesick. It can be an overwhelming feeling, especially on top of everything else one must think about as a university student.

Whether you’ve felt homesick for an extended period or the feeling comes and goes, this article offers advice for how to cope with those feelings.


1. Acknowledge your feelings

The first thing to note is that feeling homesick is completely normal, and it’s a feeling so many students experience at some point during their university years. 

You’re away from your family, friends, and life as you’ve known it forever, so missing home is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. 

You can have a great life at university, but it doesn't mean you don’t miss those special moments at home. 

Embracing those feelings and recognising that you’re feeling homesick is the first step to tackling it, so don’t be afraid to admit how you’re feeling and voice your thoughts. 

2. Don’t compare your experience to other people’s

It can be tempting to scroll through social media and see what your friends are up to at different universities. 

However, seeing other people having a great time may make those homesick feelings even more intense, especially if they appear to not be missing home. 

Everyone copes differently with moving away from home, so try not to compare yourself to how others are doing.

3. Stay in touch with home, but not too much

Scheduling in time to call a friend or FaceTime your family is not only a chance to stay in the loop with what’s going on, but it also gives you something to look forward to in those times when you may be missing home. 

However, don’t let yourself be tempted to call frequently, as this can make you miss home even more. 

This also means not going home too often too early, as this will make it harder to return to university life. 


4. Keep yourself busy 

When you’re busy, it’s surprising how quickly your mind deviates from those thoughts of longing for home. 

Planning a fun day out with friends (in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines), spending an afternoon exploring London, going for a run, and doing small tasks like dropping library books off or doing your weekly food shop will keep your mind off missing home. 


5. Establish a home away from home

Your university home is still a home away from home, and making it feel like one will really help give you the structure you need to combat homesickness. 

Bring some special home comforts, such as photos, artwork, or a nice rug to brighten up the place. 

Decorate your room with new things that you’ve accumulated from university such as flyers you collected at the Fresher’s Fair or pictures of you with new friends. 

All these things will make you want to come back to university after time away and will help create a place you want to be in.


6. Go home for a recharge

Sometimes, going home on a regular basis only feeds your homesickness and makes you feel the distance even more than before. 

On other occasions, going home might be just what you need, and that is perfectly okay. 

It will give you the time to reset and refresh from university, giving you that little boost before moving back to your university home. 


7. Know when to ask for help 

Homesickness is a very normal and understandable feeling.

However, if feeling homesick is preventing you from going about your daily life or you find yourself struggling to manage these feelings, it is important to know that there are plenty of services available to help you in a safe and friendly capacity. 

The Student Support and Wellbeing services are there to help you navigate any feelings that may be affecting your study or wellbeing, so reach out for help within the UCL community if you need it.

Image credit: Blake Guidry on Unsplash