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Feeling Homesick at University

Updated: Jan 14

Student feeling homesick and sad at university

Homesickness can manifest itself in different ways, from feeling sad and lonely, to struggling to adapt to your new surroundings at university. Feeling homesick can be particularly difficult in the first few weeks at university, while you’re settling into the new routine, but it's important to give it some time - it WILL get easier.

By taking steps to manage your homesickness, you can enjoy all that university life has to offer.

Understanding Why You’re Feeling Homesick at University

It is common for students to feel homesick at university. For many students, the campus becomes their new home away from home. However, for others - being away from home for the first time can be a challenging experience, and it's natural to miss the comforts of home.

Your Mum’s cooking, your Dad’s corny jokes, being nagged to walk the dog – what wouldn’t you give to be nagged right now?!

It's important to realise that feeling homesick is a normal part of a student’s transition at university, and it's OK to feel this way.

Defining Homesickness and Its Symptoms

Understanding the common symptoms of homesickness, as well as the factors that contribute to it, can help you find strategies to cope.

Homesickness is a normal emotional response to separation from familiar surroundings and people. It can manifest as feelings of longing, sadness, anxiety, stress, or worry. Symptoms of homesickness may include:

  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating

  • Loss of appetite or overeating

  • Feeling isolated or cut off from others

  • Wanting to withdraw or avoid social situations

  • Thinking about home all the time.

Recognising these symptoms is the first step in managing homesickness and looking after your mental health.

The Transition to University Life

For many students, university is their first experience of living away from home and gaining independence. This transition can be challenging, as you adjust to new surroundings, routines, and expectations.

It is normal to feel overwhelmed or insecure at this time.

It is also common for students to call home all the time, but there are strategies you can use to make the transition easier:

  • Connect with others: Join clubs or societies, attend social events, and reach out to your peers and support networks.

  • Create a routine: Establishing a regular schedule for studying, eating, and sleeping can help you feel more settled and in control.

  • Stay active: Exercise, sports, and other physical activities can help reduce stress and improve your mood.

  • Seek support: Talk to friends, family, or a mental health professional if you are struggling to cope.


Factors That Contribute to Homesickness

Homesickness can be influenced by a number of different factors, including:

  • Separation from loved ones: Being away from family and friends can be a significant source of stress and anxiety.

  • Lack of familiarity: Adapting to your new environment, culture, and lifestyle can be challenging, especially if it is very different from what you are used to.

  • Academic pressure: University can be demanding, and the pressure to do well can add to feelings of stress and anxiety.

  • Personal factors: Your personality, coping style, and past experiences can also influence how you respond to the transition to university life.

  • Isolation: You may not have made any friends yet, you may be struggling to find a sense of belonging in your new environment, and you may feel lonely.

Understanding these factors and developing strategies to deal with them can help you cope with homesickness and enjoy your university experience.


Strategies for Coping with Homesickness

Moving away from home to attend university can be a difficult transition for many students, and it is common to feel homesick.

However, there are several strategies you can use to cope with homesickness and make the most of your time on campus.

1. Build Yourself a Support Network on Campus

One of the most important things you can do to combat homesickness is to build up a support network on campus. This can include flat mates, classmates, societies, tutors, and counsellors in the university community.

Getting involved in campus activities and societies is the quickest way to help you meet new people and build relationships that can give you some emotional support and a sense of belonging.

2. Balance Your Studies and Social Life

Another important strategy for coping with homesickness is to find a balance between your studies and your social life.

Spending all your time locked in your room studying to avoid social activities is not healthy.

Finding a balance between your work, and having some kind of social interaction can help you get involved more with your new environment at university and reduce any feelings of homesickness.

3. Keep In Touch with Home

While it is important to build up a new support network on campus, it is good for you to maintain links with home. Keeping in touch with your family and friends through social media, FaceTime, or WhatsApp, can help you keep up with the family gossip, updates, and the familiarity of home.

Give yourself a chance to settle into your new surroundings without abandoning your studies to return home. Homesickness may feel overwhelming at university at first, but you WILL get through this.

Millions of students worldwide have survived their first steps into independence at university, and YOU CAN TOO!


Coping with homesickness at university can be challenging, but by building a support network, balancing your studies and social life, and maintaining links with home, you can make the most of your time on campus and feel more confident and settled in your new environment.

Don’t forget to look after yourself, talk to people if you're struggling, and seek out support from mental health services, counselling, and information services if you need it.

For a reminder of strategies to help you cope if you're feeling homesick at university, download our free guide.


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