Coming to university to study results in a number of changes regardless of what stage of your life you are in, or where you are coming from. Adapting to the university community, learning the new rules that govern learning, or making new friendships are all challenges a new student faces. For some students they are still living at home but for others they are living away from the family home for the first time. Regardless of how far the distance is between the family home and where they are living now the unfamiliar people and places and being out of their regular routine can result in increased stress and anxiety and feeling disconnected or homesick from friends and family at home. They can experience loneliness or experience a loss of control in their daily activities, and I’m not just talking about the struggle with independence and chores like the washing up, cooking or laundry.
For some they are unaware that the stress and anxiety they are feeling is related to being away from home. For others they are aware of it and their yearning for home consumes their thoughts and they find it increasingly difficult to adjust to the new environment. Some are staying in constant contact with those back at home through social networks, phone calls or Skype and avoiding making the time to get to know the people around them. Some are comparing their current set of circumstances to how things would have been different at home, instead of figuring out how to navigate in the new environment.
There are so many strategies to try to help someone who misses home and is struggle to fit into and accept their new home. I came across this website for students considering traveling overseas and was struck by how many of the 26 tips they offer actually apply for those who move interstate, or an hour away from home or even those who move to the next suburb. Of the 26 tips I have narrowed it down to a few that I think you might find helpful:
1. Don’t focus so hard on staying in touch with family and friends from home that you exclude the possibility of making new connections where you are now.
2. Create a new routine for your new home away from home. This will help you feel more in control and yearn less for the routine and comfort you got from being home.
3. Try and exercise regularly, eat healthy regular meals, and get a good nights sleep.
4. Keep up your old habits, if you played a sport or were part of a club or organisation at home then join a new team here
5. Seek help and support from others and don’t feel guilty about missing home, or making your new home a home you love as well.
I think the last point is the most important tip. It’s alright to admit you are struggling and ask for some help. It’s also ok if in moving away from home you are not struggling and are finding it exciting. There is no right or wrong when it comes to moving away from home.