Homesickness is hard to talk about. The stigma surrounding it makes you sometimes perceive yourself as weak or immature, even though it’s actually a common and appropriate reaction to the change of moving away from home. It’s something that we have all experienced at some point in our lives, yet it’s not often openly talked about. The serious side of homesickness is that it behaves similarly to depression and anxiety, often revealing a mix of symptoms from those two disorders.
It’s important to recognize when you or your friends start to slip into the trap of homesickness. It often starts with regular nostalgic thoughts about home and feeling less like doing your normal activities (a.k.a. that one essay due fairly soon). Homesickness can make you isolate yourself, your only companion may be the Ben and Jerrys you picked up when you left the house for the first time in days to run to the campus grocery shop. It’s feelings of tiredness and irritation towards everyone and everything around you (except Netflix). The heavy feeling of “missing” can be debilitating, affecting your social and academic life, and can result in the phone call you tried so long and hard to avoid…
“Mom? … Can you come pick me up?”
We’ve all been there, I’ve been there many times and somewhere after one of those very phone calls I realized it wasn’t defeat or the end of the world. There is nothing wrong with missing home. Change is a big, scary thing and university can be an overwhelming place in your first year. The important thing is that although you may feel homesick, you should try not to dwell too long in those thoughts because they can soon weigh a little too heavily on your heart.
There are plenty of resources and opportunities for happiness at the University of Kent from what I have experienced so far this year. I have put together my guide to healing from homesickness at Kent.
- Grab a coffee from any campus shop (the Gulbenkian Cafe makes a mean cappuccino), walk the Eliot footpath down the hill until you see a particularly welcoming tree. Take a seat, read a book, and go to a relaxing mental place.
- Dance out the bad vibes at The Venue, make good choices.
- Join a campus group meditation – they happen every Wednesday evening!
- Take a yoga or exercise class at the student Athletic Centre – endorphins make you feel better.
- Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp are ideal ways of communicating with your family and friends from home. Sometimes you really just need to talk to your mom, sister, brother, father, etc, and all you have to do is pop onto an app to see them. The internet can make the world feel so much smaller, use that to your advantage.
- Eat at the Kbar. Order their pizza because not only is it delicious but, it is also a well-known fact that pizza can fix anything. It’s an even better idea to eat at Kbar… with friends! Socializing with the friends that uplift you can be such a valuable coping tool.
- Take care to leave the house regularly and keep up with your personal hygiene.
- If the depression and anxiety symptoms of homesickness persist to a serious stage it is important to be registered with the Kent student support and wellbeing services on campus. https://www.kent.ac.uk/studentsupport/wellbeing/
University and living independently away from home can be a scary change that we will experience in our lives, but it’s not a negative one! This is a positive life opportunity and there are so many beautiful things about the undergraduate experience. Enjoy the greatest aspects of your time at Kent, and when the sneaky thoughts of homesickness try to creep back into your life, get a friend or flatmate and find an adventure to remind you why this is the place and the moment that you are meant to be in.