Today’s blog is all about settling into uni, because, well, that’s been my life for the last month; finding my feet in a new city, surrounded by new people, and a new way of life. That being said, most of these tips will apply no matter where or why you’re moving – if you want to learn how to deal with homesickness and settle into a new place, you’re in the right place.
Moving to any place is always going to be both extremely exciting and also extremely nerve-wracking. But to me, fear and excitement are two sides of the same coin – one can’t be around without the other in tow. It’s been a challenge, but with some of the tips I’ve included in this blog, I’ve been able to find some comfort in the discomfort of pushing my comfort zone and settling up home in this new place. Uncomfortable? Yes. But, incredibly exciting? Definitely.
“It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.” – Roy T. Bennett
1. Let yourself be homesick
It sounds a little crazy, right? Shouldn’t I be giving you tips on how not to be homesick? Well, that’s all down to how you look at things. Feeling homesick when you move somewhere new is natural, but feeling and processing those feelings is important to really deal with them and get past them. Perpetuating those feelings and bottling them can lead to a worse reaction later.
There are lots of things you can do to help these feelings, but in the early days, I’d just recommend letting yourself sit with them. Sometimes, it’s important to pile on the blankets and sit in your feelings for a bit. Here, I pull out the cosy stops – blankets, a good film, foods that feel homely. This is your new home and part of creating that space (both physically and in yourself) is about looking after yourself – it’s up to you now. Other times, you might feel more inclined to reach out to the people around you (more on this later). People are an excellent source of comfort, especially when they know exactly what you’re going through, and trust me, they do! It’s important to build a support system in your new home.
This isn’t to say you can’t visit home, or that you shouldn’t call someone from home when you feel lonely, but if you go home every time you start feeling lonely, you’ll never learn to stop feeling lonely here. If anything, you might make your pull to home even stronger. As many of my friends who’ve already moved away have made clear to me, it’s really important to learn to deal with those feelings in your new place, with the people around you and your own support. You’ll feel mighty settled and mighty independent before you know it.
2. Invest in your new space
This is such an important tip when starting to deal with homesickness! Wherever you are whether you’re living in halls, with other people, by yourself – whatever your situation, making your new place feel like home will really help you feel more settled. I brought a lot of stuff to uni (maybe too much, my dad would definitely say too much), but the second I got here I felt settled. I had everything I needed, I had familiar comforts around me and the place felt like it was truly mine. Think books, knickknacks, plants, photos, posters, plushies, whatever your personal luxuries and loves are.
To some people, it might sound like feng-shui gobbledygook, but I really do thrive in a good environment – when I feel aligned with a space, it really does make a difference to my mood. I think a plain room would have me feeling more lonely. My clutter, my plants and the things I’ve brought with me have helped as reminders of friends and family, to brighten up the space and on a deep level, as reminders of who I am. Not to mention, they’re excellent talking points.
3. Talk to People
Yeah, it’s a pretty standard tip – but it’s too important not to be said. As I mentioned briefly earlier, having good people around you and building a new support system in your new home is going to help you feel more comfortable and way more grounded – not to mention just being fun.
Reaching out and connecting with people forms the basis of really meaningful connections. Chances are, lots of the people around you are feeling just the same as you do right now. Figuring situations out, finding your feet together, introducing each other to new things – that’s how friendships are made. Especially in those early days (though don’t worry if you’re popping up a little later), everybody is so open to making friends that you really can’t go wrong approaching anyone. You’ll meet a whole host of people, then it’s up to you where your time goes.
Ah, my favourite tip. Hopefully, you’ve moved to somewhere you’re excited to explore. Getting out and about is the best way to discover the new world around you and help you find your feet. Figure out your new commuting routes, the nearest shops, the nearby restaurants, find a nice walk and a park, a cute coffee shop and an interesting landmark.
For me, this is when I really get my teeth into absorbing a place, of, in my case right now, becoming something of a Londoner. Every place has a unique culture and the more you expose yourself to it, the more you discover both of the world and of yourself (and that is our motto here at Wandering Terra). Romanticize the crap out of everything. Live like a main character. Soak it up.
5. Reinvent yourself
Take this opportunity to have a fresh start. I don’t mean some Earth-shattering Princess Diaries transformation (although by all means go ahead), I just mean take this clean slate as a chance to choose intentionally and step a little further into who you truly want to be. Drop any baggage you no longer care for and make the most of your lack of history in this new place. I can’t give you much more advice on this one, it’s something that’s completely personal to you, but at least give it some thought, eh?
6. Set yourself up well
Do the important adulting things. Figure out how to do laundry and where the hoover lives. Have a little stache of medicine at the ready and sign up at your new doctors. Smile and say hello to the cleaners, the receptionist and your neighbours. Just give yourself a fighting chance to get started.
I got pretty ill in my first week (it’s not a cool story about partying too hard, it’s a boring tale of the worst cold I’ve ever had – fresher’s flu ftw ✌️) and I’m so glad I had a medicine stache and some tinned soup ready to go.
You’ll pick most things up over time, cleaning and shopping will become second nature, so don’t put tons of pressure on yourself. Just look after yourself, kiddo.
7. Start a routine
If you’ve read any of my other content (see here, here and here), you’ll know I love a good routine. Making time for the things you truly love doing, as well as having helpful habits to help you get the things you need to do done just takes all of the stress out of life. Maybe it sounds a little stiff to some people so I’ll clarify what I mean. When I talk about creating a routine, I don’t mean planning out my day by the minute to robot my way through ‘healthy habits’, I mean living your life the way you really want to. Making time for your hobbies and the people around you, making extra effort in your cooking and looking after yourself and your space, I mean getting your work done in a time frame and to a standard you care for. With the alternative being coasting through most days wondering where the time’s gone and questioning if you really did anything, let alone anything you cared about.
Routines are my way of keeping myself in check, of remaining conscious every day of making an effort to live truly how I care to and honestly, to give myself something to look forward to waking up to. So if you want to know how to create a routine, well I already have a blog for that.
It’s funny, really, I had a friend message me a few times during my first week saying little things like ‘treat yourself to a coffee today’ and ‘make sure you make yourself nice food!’ which I didn’t really understand at first, but after speaking to him about it, I realised he was telling me to thank myself for the fact that I was doing something really hard. Moving away is hard. Starting uni is hard. Being on your own is hard. Being independent is hard. So it’s important to thank yourself for that and to enjoy it as much as you can, in whatever way you do that best. Learning how to deal with homesickness is a battle I’m sure most of us will wage as many times as we move, but it’s a grief that shows appreciation for where we’ve been and is accompanied by the opportunity to love somewhere new.
Feel everything and enjoy yourself. Love, Ella Rose xx