Feeling homesick

Understanding what homesickness is, and why we get it, can help you move forward.

Students chat at a table.

Leaving home can be thrilling- new people, new sights, new opportunities- until the homesickness kicks in, and then things don’t seem so great anymore.

For many people homesickness is a very real part of moving away from home, and it consumes them like grief. If you are missing home and feeling this way, don’t panic! What you are feeling is perfectly normal, and there’s every chance it will pass as you become accustomed to your new surroundings.

Why are my emotions doing this to me?

You couldn’t wait to leave home right? The idea of spreading your wings and being your own person was so exciting, it kept you up at night. But now you’re feeling all this other stuff and it’s not what you signed up for… tears, confusion, loneliness, you’re probably wondering what you have gotten yourself into!

You’re most likely experiencing the four stages of settling in...

Stage one: This is often described as the honeymoon phase, because you might feel energised, excited by the prospect of change and generally just really enthusiastic about your new situation.

Stage two: This is the stage where culture shock sets in. You might suddenly feel a heightened sense of awareness around language and cultural differences. It is quite common to feel disappointed, anxious and homesick at this point.

Stage three: This is the recovery stage. At this point you might start to feel more comfortable and well adjusted. You will be learning about new cultures, or adapting to a new home environment, and what was once so foreign to you will suddenly seem more familiar.

Stage four: This is the adaptation stage, and it’s a good one! This is the point in the journey when you start to thrive in your new surroundings. You can recognise the difference between your new and old homes, and you no longer feel upset by the changes.

What can I do to make myself feel better?

If you are experiencing homesickness right now and feeling a bit lost, there are steps you can take to make yourself feel a bit better.     

Ride it out: For starters, recognise that you’re probably riding one heck of an emotional rollercoaster right now.

Check out this handy graph about homesickness created by Warwick University, and feel a bit better about the journey…at some point you’ll be shooting upwards to the enthusiasm/thrive zone, and it will feel great! 

Give it time: There are very few people out there who immediately feel at home in a new place, so don’t worry if you’re feeling a bit out of sorts. Just give yourself some time to settle in.   

Set some goals: Make a plan to meet new people, go to a new event or try a new activity.  

Be kind: Don’t beat yourself up if you’re feeling a bit low. Missing your home is not a sign of failure, it’s a normal and necessary reaction to a new situation. Just keep doing all the little things that you have always enjoyed.        

Stay active: Keep yourself feeling great by exercising, eating well and getting a proper night’s sleep.

Stay awesome: It sounds cheesy, but it’s true.  You’ve overcome plenty in the past, and what you are going through right now is no different.  Think about all you have achieved and put those coping strategies of the past to good use!

Educate yourself!

If you want to learn a bit more about homesickness and what you can do to work through it, check out:

Feelings won’t budge?

If you’re feeling really low and find yourself not coping with your new surroundings, and need a bit of extra support, visit Health and Counselling.