How to handle homesickness

Leanne Healy shares some advice on how to assuage the pangs of homesickness that accompany moving to a new city

Typically, leaving for college is an exciting time for many students. There is a newfound sense of freedom that one acquires when moving away for the first time no rules, no parents and a fresh start. On paper, it seems perfect. When moving to college everything is new and unknown, a new city with new friends and most importantly, a new home. In all this chaos, students may find themselves craving the predictable, stable life that they have left behind and miss the comforts and familiarities of home.

The unknown can be intimidating; however, instead of turning back home, students should face it head on.

In an unfamiliar city, people can often miss the feeling of being known. The experience (which many of us know all too well) of walking downtown and seeing at least three people you know is now gone. Instead, a sea of faces that you will likely never see again rush past you on Grafton Street. The unknown can be intimidating; however, instead of turning back home, students should face it head on. According to the Students’ Union, over 70% of students experience this feeling of homesickness, so know that you are not in this alone. This article outlines ways to adapt to a new life in Dublin with tips and tricks on how to cope with and reduce homesickness.

It is important to distract yourself in order to overcome the feeling of homesickness. In other words, keep yourself busy. A great way to do this is to join societies and Trinity definitely has no shortage of them, from chess, to astrology and even juggling. With over 120 different options available, at least one will interest each student in some way. Joining a society is a great and easy way to meet like-minded people who have similar interests to you. Societies organise a range of events throughout the year for members to attend. College is a great time to start something new; whether you have always wanted to learn how to debate, get involved with student politics, or even pick up knitting, Trinity societies offer it all!

It is crucial to put yourself out there. Although it may seem daunting at first, reaching out to people and making that special effort could result in lifelong friendships forming. The feeling of homesickness usually creeps up when alone, so it is important to make friends and meet new people. Do not be afraid to make the first move and ask people if they want to go for a coffee after a lecture, or to the library for a study session – the worst they could do is say no! By making new friends, you will keep yourself preoccupied all whilst creating great memories.

A perfect way to make friends is to get to know your flatmates. Flatmates will be there for you through the highs and the lows, the laughter and the tears – they essentially will become your second family. There are many different bonding activities which a flat can take part in together, from movie nights to cooking dinners, or even just staying up the entire night chatting. Getting to know your flatmates will help ease any nerves you may have and distract you from the thought of home.

This may seem obvious, but decorating your new room will instantly make it feel more like home. One sentimental way to spruce up your room is to hang up some photos of friends and family on the walls, as well as photos of your journey in Trinity and the new friends which you have made. This is a great way to look back on life at home while also reminding yourself of the new memories and adventures yet to come.

It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with Dublin from the beginning – become a true Dubliner! Taking advantage of Google Maps and learning different routes to get to and from your accommodation is a helpful place to start. By learning the names of different streets in Dublin (not just Temple Bar) your confidence in the city will grow and you will be able to picture what streets look like in no time, instead of having to whip out trusty Google Maps. There are many different walking tours and bus tours available in Dublin or you can also try discovering the city with flatmates and new friends. In Dublin, public transport will be your best friend; get a Leap card and start exploring! By getting to know Dublin, it will no longer feel like a new city, but more like a second home.

Facetiming and Skyping your family and friends are great ways to keep in contact with them if you are missing home. However, if these calls are made too often, they may do more harm than good. Video calls are great for a catch up and to fill each other in on any big news in life but if more than one is being made per day it may result in missing home even more. It is a good idea to schedule a weekly or biweekly Facetime or Skype call with home. Setting small boundaries like this prevents you from getting too attached, therefore helping to avoid homesickness. Students need the opportunity to embrace their new life in college and become more independent.

The unfamiliarity of the city will fade over time, the unpredictability of each day will become predictable once settled into a routine, and Dublin will soon become your new home.

Talking about your feelings is a fantastic way to deal with and understand them. As mentioned, almost 70% of students will experience homesickness at some point. Don’t be afraid to open up to friends and let them know your feelings and worries. If you do not feel comfortable sharing with your friends and would feel more at ease talking to a professional, Trinity offers a free counselling service for students. The most important thing to remember is that homesickness is a temporary feeling which will pass. The unfamiliarity of the city will fade over time, the unpredictability of each day will become predictable once settled into a routine, and Dublin will soon become your new home.