It’s the time of your life! You’re all on your own with all the freedom in the world. Being at university can be one of the most exciting times of your life.
But, it can come with a downside. It may be the first time you’re away from home, and – for some – all your family and friends. But don’t worry – you’re not alone!
Feeling homesick at university is normal and you’re most likely to feel that way at first. This is because you’ve left behind everything that you’re familiar with; friends, family and your usual environment. The sense of loss that you feel may resolve over time as you get used to your new surroundings and make friends, but it’s also possible that to “get stuck” in this feeling. The loneliness can become quite intense at times.
This is normal. Loneliness isn’t an unnatural feeling at university. You don’t have to pretend to be ‘strong’ and hold it all together: everyone feels lonely sometimes. On top of that, you may also feel stressed, insecure and vulnerable. When you’re feeling this way, there are a few things you can try:
- Fill your room with a few familiar things that remind you of home – just enough special items to give you a sense of comfort.
- When you find the loneliness coming on, don’t sit in your room and let it build. Immediately find a way to distract your mind. Read a book, or go outdoors. Visit the cafeteria or library on campus. Explore your new surroundings.
- Practise talking. Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like. If small talk with strangers makes you tongue-tied, do a few practice runs before an event. In the privacy of your room, chat to yourself. Stand in front of a mirror to really get a feel for being more approachable and relaxed.
- What’s the most obscure, crazy, random activity you’ve always wanted to try? Maybe it’s painting, or pottery, or boxing? Chances are, your university has a club or group. Beating loneliness is about taking a step out of the scared box. Remember, none of those people know you so there’s nothing to be shy about. However, if it all works out, you may just end up with some new friends!
It’s okay to be alone sometimes
Being alone is not all bad. Healthy people are capable of being alone. This is, in fact, good for your mental wellbeing. It gives you time to explore your own mind, your likes and dislikes. When you get to know yourself better, you can handle the stressors of life better, and grow in confidence.
If all else fails
See a campus counsellor. There is absolutely no shame in seeking help. It takes a lot more guts to ask for help, than to keep struggling on your own. A counsellor can help you find ways to effectively combat loneliness and stress, and truly make the best of the best years of your life!
Good to know
- Don’t blame yourself for how you feel. It’ll only make you feel worse.
- Tell yourself that loneliness is just a visitor who will eventually leave.
- When you’re having a bad day, remember that there’s always tomorrow.
- Try volunteering. Helping someone in need takes the focus off how you’re feeling.
- Don’t bottle up your feelings, talk to someone about how you feel. You can also try writing in a journal. Often, our feelings become smaller and less scary when we see them reflected back to us on paper.