Now that you’re a month into your university life at Dal, things might not be exactly how you imagined them and you might find yourself longing for simpler times. Times of old friendships, animal cuddles, and home-cooked meals—times of home. Homesickness can really sneak up on a person and be incredibly tough to deal with. But if you follow any or all of these five steps, you can beat those feelings of homesickness.
1. Create balance within your support systems
When dealing with a bad day it seems like a no-brainer to some people to call home and talk with their loved ones. Talking to people you care about back home can almost always get your spirits back to the high level that they should be. Your loved ones help you feel supported as well as connected to the world. These are great things to feel and they can help you adjust better to your new environment.
But you do need to start relying on yourself more and gaining confidence. Focusing on people you care about back home too often can prevent you from learning to manage things on your own and can even prevent you from developing relationships with new people. This is why finding a balance in communication is important.
Check in at home now and then but also try to handle things on your own more often than you have before. Learning to manage your own life will allow you to feel more in control and confident in your new environment and will decrease feelings of helplessness that come with being homesick.
2. Make your room your home
Most people are comfortable in their own homes because they have character in them and reflect their personality. Your bedroom at home is a reflection of who you are, right? It should be the same thing when you move away.
In order to change a house, apartment, or residence room into your new home away from home, it’s important to add some of your personality into the place and do whatever you can to make it as comfortable as possible.
After the decorating is complete, it’s time to start creating positive memories in the space so you don’t just associate it with homework. Buy some comfort food and have friends over for a movie or games night and dance around in your PJs as much as physically possible!
If you’re stumped on how to decorate your new space, here are some ideas from Buzzfeed.
3. Take time to socialize
Although academics should be the top priority to any university student, it’s not the only part of the student life experience. It’s important to associate your time at university with positive thoughts and memories apart from lab reports and exams. So take the time to be social.
Whether it’s going to events on campus or getting to know your neighbour, eventually you’ll start to develop positive relationships and create a new support system at university and spend less time feeling sad and missing loved ones or friends from home.
4. Stay busy, stay involved
If you find yourself feeling sad and thinking about home whenever you have down time, then you need to get out there and start doing things to distract your mind from sad thoughts. Get involved on campus or out in the community. There are so many great student groups and societies you can be a part of. There are also events happening on campus any day of the week (if you’re on one of the Halifax campuses, try out some of Dal After Dark’s stuff on the weekends or check the Student Events calendar; if you’re at Dal AC, keep up with what DASA has going on).
Whatever you interests are, there’s something to keep you busy and help you make connections with new friends. Eventually your sad thoughts will become a thing of the past.
In Halifax, DalConnects is a great way to get involved with volunteering, and you can also check out some other volunteer opportunities in the city. At Dal AC, the Student Advancement in Leadership program has some fantastic volunteer opportunities on campus and in the area.
Check out this Getting Involved page for all kinds of great ideas!
5. Keep up with past interests
It’s easy to lose yourself in the never-ending hustle and bustle of university. Since this can be a busy time it’s sometimes difficult to spend time doing things you’ve typically enjoyed doing in the past. And you may think that your interests don’t fit in with your new university life. It’s not true.
Schedule some time in your week to fit in activities you love. If you like music, go to open mic night or karaoke. If sports are your thing, then sign up for intramurals, go to some varsity or club games, or get some people together to play on the weekend. Whatever your interests, you can enjoy them anywhere you go.
There are many different ways to cope with homesickness and not all tips will work for everyone, so try as many as possible until you find something that suits you the best.
If you still feel overwhelmed or upset there are other resources on campus you should seek out. If you need to talk to someone, you should speak with a friend, an RA, or even with a professional at the Student Health & Wellness Centre in Halifax, and Health Services in Truro.