How to cope with homesickness

Homesickness can creep up especially on international students who arrive in a new place, meet new people and experience new things.

Students may find its exciting when they first arrive in a foreign country. But when the pressure of university starts to kick in, students start to think of friends and family back home.

Ian Maher: “Homesickness should not be dismissed, because it can be very hard on a student.”

Ian Maher, Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) chaplain and a member of the Student Wellbeing team, shares his top tips on how to cope with homesickness.

“Homesickness can hit students very hard when they feel lonely and distanced with family. Many people easily dismiss homesickness by thinking that ‘I will be fine’,” said Ian.

However, homesickness can develop into a major problem if it is not dealt with properly. Ian said that deeply rooted homesickness can affect students emotionally and psychologically in the long term.

“Even though it may painful to talk about it, students should try to open up about their homesickness,” he said.

He suggested for students to seek help from someone they trust, or go to the University Student Wellbeing team as they can provide confidential support and personal guidance.

Here are 5 suggestions on dealing with homesickness:

  • Understand that being in a new place can be stressful. Finding yourself in a new environment and meeting new people can be hard. But give yourself time to adapt and you may feel better in next days.
  • Make use of the technology. Schedule regular weekly or monthly slots to call or Skype with your family and loved ones. This way, your family time is only a week away rather than a few years down the road.
  • Expand your social circle. Try to join most of the activities that organized by the Student Union. By socialising and meeting new friends, you keep yourself busy and entertained, and will soon forget about being homesick.
  • Talk to someone.  Don’t keep everything by yourself. Talk to a friend or someone that will understand your problem.
  • Think positively. Homesickness can be defeated with proper support and help. Do not be discouraged, stay strong and fill your mind with positive, encouraging thoughts.

Take a listen to a short interview clip with Ian Maher.

-Story, Photo & Audio by Josephine Chua

Contact the SHU Student Wellbeing Team at student.wellbeing@shu.ac.uk for more information. 
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