Fri. May 3rd, 2024

Homesickness: the student experience rarely talked about

By Sherif K Mustafa Oct 28, 2022

Homesickness strikes hard for anyone away from home for the first time and for international students it can be particularly challenging.

There is no way a person could know when or how bad the sickness will hit them.

Homesickness could be mild distress at being away from home and family or it could be as serious as evolving into physical pain and psychological problems.

Studies have found that around 94% of students experience some form of homesickness in the first 10 weeks of college.

  • Disturbed sleeping pattern
  • Dark thoughts and bottled anger issues
  • Headaches
  • Stomach pain
  • Feeling lonely or stranded
  • Feeling low self-worth
  • Questioning your decisions and moves
  • Often metal breakdowns
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of concentration
Student experience

Shams Isa was a pharmacy student at Kingston University but fell victim to homesickness.

She said that when she came to London she already knew people here, which could have made it easier, but it just had the opposite effect. S

he said: “I often felt lonely and I had no energy to study or attend classes to the point I was self-sabotaging my studies.”

She had friends in Kingston but found it hard to get used to life in London. In addition, she said: “I thought studying abroad was exciting but I just wanted a break from family until reality sunk in.”

The river Thames at Kingston
A walk along the river can be good for the soul. Photo: Erica Brown

Feeling homesick is not a weakness or something to be embarrassed about but tackling it early is the best tactic. Try not to give up on new opportunities when they present themselves. Here are some suggestions of things you might try.

1. Join societies and events at the university
At Kingston University there are many societies and clubs students can join to relieve stress and feelings of loneliness. You can meet new people and perhaps discover new inner talents.

2. Long walks exploring new cities
Follow the towpath from Kingston to enjoy sights along the river. Or if you really want to see the city you could embark on the London Loop, a circular path that runs the whole way around London and can be done in stages.

3. Sports
The UK offers a vast variety of sporting opportunities as a spectator or a participant. You can watch live professional matches or join student teams. Whichever sport you prefer and whatever level you play there is something for you.

4. Healthy Lifestyle
Take care of your health, starting with healthy eating. One of the symptoms of homesickness is loss of appetite so try to find foods you like. Also, make sure you get a good night’s sleep and drink lots of water.

5. Balance between the old and the new
Try to balance the contact between your old life and contact home with your new life at college. It might get lonely but try not to rely too much on the family to make you feel better. Go out and explore your new environment and make new connections with people that can become your support
network in what is now, even if not forever, your new home.

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