Overcoming Homesickness as a Graduate Student in the UK

‘Homesickness’ is a well recognised psychological state that can arise when students move away from home to study in a foreign country. As the UK is home to some of the best universities in the world it is no wonder that so many students from other parts of the world are choosing to pursue their higher education here.

What is Homesickness?

Homesickness is an emotion experienced when a person longs for the familiar things they left behind at home, such as family, friends, home-cooked food, cultural norms etc. It is different from “missing home” as it is usually accompanied by intense negative emotions including sadness, loneliness, anxiety and even depression.

Common Causes of Homesickness

There are several factors which can lead to homesickness, some of the most common being:

  • Adjusting to an unfamiliar environment
  • Missing family and friends
  • Loneliness
  • Culture shock
  • Unfamiliarity with the area
  • Dealing with new routines and responsibilities
  • Fears about the future

Managing Homesickness as a Graduate Student in the UK

For a graduate student, overcoming homesickness can be particularly difficult. Here are some tips for managing homesickness as a graduate student in the UK:

  • Stay in touch: It may seem obvious, but staying in touch with friends and family back home can help ease the homesickness and make it easier to adjust to the new environment. For instance, you can send emails, use Skype or WhatsApp to keep in touch.
  • Find support: Look for other international students on campus – they will be facing the same homesickness issues as you. There are also student support services that can help with any emotional issues you may be facing, such as counselling and therapy.
  • Create a routine: Establishing and sticking to a routine is important for graduate students. It can help you to feel more in control and also help with feeling homesick. Having regular times for meals, exercise, study and relaxation can be a great way to focus your energy and stay positive.
  • Join a club or group: Participating in campus activities and joining a student group can help to increase your social circle and get you out of the house. There are often student-run societies on campus that can be a great way to connect with other international students and make friends.
  • Explore the city: Get to know the local area by exploring the city and surrounding areas. Going on a sightseeing or shopping tour can help you to learn more about the culture and get you out of the house – and it can be a great way to make new friends.
  • Allow yourself to feel homesick: It’s important not to push your thoughts of home and family away. Allow yourself to experience homesickness – it’s a normal part of being away from home and it will eventually pass.
  • Practise self-care: This can be anything from doing some yoga and meditation, to taking regular breaks from studying or attending a ‘fun’ class. Self-care can help to boost mood and reduce anxiety, and make it easier to manage the homesickness.

FAQs

Q. How can I distract myself from homesickness?

A. It can help to focus on the present and make plans for the future. Join clubs or societies, explore the city, find a hobby. The key is to focus on the here and now and find activities which bring you joy.

Q. How do I cope with homesickness when I don’t have many friends?

A. Reach out to other international students on campus, attend events, go to university-organised socials and join student groups. There are also support services available to provide emotional support and advice.

Conclusion

Adjusting to a new environment can take time and bring emotional turbulence. When it comes to homesickness, it is important to remember that it is a perfectly normal emotion to experience, particularly when moving away from home to pursue graduate studies. Establishing and maintaining a routine, staying in touch with home, and self-care are some of the best ways to manage homesickness. Ultimately, it is important to remember that homesickness is a feeling that passes. With time and effort, it will become easier to overcome homesickness and find enjoyment in your new environment.

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