Mastering Homesickness: Insights from "Inside Out"

5 July 2024

Ever seen 'Inside Out'? We're all a bit like Riley sometimes. Settling into a whole new place can leave us feeling as confused as her - new people, new foods (even missing the taste of home!).

Just like in the movie, our emotions - Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Anger - can clash, leaving us frustrated. All we want is the comfort of home, yet we're also building a 'new home' here. I get it! As an international student myself, I understand. But hey, even if you're not, this article has some great tips for settling into university life. Let's navigate this journey together!

1. Do not deny your sadness, do not suppress your anger. 

It is okay to not be okay; homesickness is completely normal. The more you suppress the sadness and anger, the more difficult it is to make peace with yourself. Give yourself time to be sad and mad. Writing a journal also helps. If you are ready, get out and go to some beautiful parks in London for fresh air; most of them are free! My favourite is Regents Park, where you can stroll around and find cute squirrels and beautiful swans. Or if you fancy indoors but still want to move your body, UCL has some workout classes and you don’t need to have any experience.

Blue cartoon character with glasses and red cartoon character stand behind console table looking shocked.

2. Conquer your fear, beat #FOMO, and combat loneliness  

Scrolling through social media for entertainment and finding ideas is great, but comparing ourselves to others is not. Be mindful when using social media. You can take notes about your findings from social media and act on them one by one in real life. When I first arrived, I relied heavily on Eventbrite to find exciting (or even serious if that's your thing) and inclusive events hosted by UCL. I scored a free BBQ and even tackled a free escape room within my first month in the UK!

Purple cartoon character with big eyes, knees on the floor and looks worried.

3. Advantage your disgust

 We sometimes dislike unfamiliar things, right? Instead of hating what does not align with our likings, we can comfort ourselves with familiar things. For example, you can try cooking your meals if you are not used to the food here. But what about those hard-to-find ingredients like turmeric or lime leaves? Fear not! Waitrose, M&S, and Sainsbury's have got you covered. And for the best supermarket comparisons, check out Which.co.uk - it's a lifesaver!

Green cartoon character with arms crossed in disgust in front of a green background.

4. Embrace your Joy!

Feeling cooped up at home? Create a list of London's must-see spots or consider exploring the UK. With accessible and inclusive public transportation, getting around is a breeze. Just be sure to do your research online for thorough information. Personally, CityMapper (think Google Maps, but better!) has been my go-to in London, offering a range of options for the cheapest and most efficient transportation. 

Smiling cartoon character with blue hair rests chin on hands.

5. Bittersweet

You can feel sadness and joy at the same time. Most of us face homesickness, so instead of keeping it to yourself, reach out and open up. If you are comfortable, you can exchange stories and find more perspectives with your international friends. Accept kindness, accept warmth from others. If it is too hard for you to talk with your friends, you can also reach out to UCL’s Student Support and Wellbeing services.

Blue cartoon character sits with a yellow cartoon character looking at a glowing yellow ball. Both characters are smiling.

6. "Home is not where you are from; it is where you belong.” - Beau Taplin, Buried Light. 

In the movie's closing scenes, Riley discovers that a new place is merely a house; true home lies within the people themselves. Remember, you're never alone. Dive into the vibrant UCL communities, explore new interests, and engage in exciting activities. Forge meaningful connections and fill your bucket list with adventures shared with good friends. Personally, I found my tribe through the Goin app. We share the same major and have explored the UK together, creating unforgettable memories. Don't forget to decorate your new space with pictures of your newfound friends here and your loved ones back in your hometown, adding another layer of warmth and belonging to your home, creating a bittersweet moment

 We are all like Riley; we are all humans, and emotions are neutral, so make sure you are conscious of your feelings. Most importantly, have fun! This is an opportunity for you to explore and develop yourself.