Leaving home to study abroad can be an exciting adventure, but it can also bring up unexpected feelings of loneliness and homesickness. As a teenager or student in the UK, you might face the challenge of living in a new environment without your usual support network. Starting university or college can be a liberating experience for any student. But for international students studying in the UK, the thrill of moving to a foreign country can quickly turn into feelings of homesickness. You may find yourself missing your family, friends, and home comforts. Or maybe you’re just struggling to adjust to the unfamiliar culture and academic demands.
Whatever it is – know that you’re not alone. It’s not uncommon to experience homesickness when studying abroad, but learning how to cope and build resilience is crucial.
This blog will share practical tips and strategies for coping with homesickness. So, whether you’re a first-year student or a seasoned traveler, this blog will help you stay connected and find your footing in a new environment!
What exactly is Homesickness?
Homesickness is a natural emotional response to being away from one’s home and familiar surroundings. It’s a common experience for people of all ages who have recently moved to a new environment or are away from their usual support network.
As a college student or teenager, you might be experiencing homesickness if you feel a sense of longing or distress for your home, family, or friends. Remember that it is not a sign of weakness, and it’s essential to recognise and acknowledge these feelings. It’s normal to miss home and the people you’re used to being around, but learning how to cope and build resilience is also essential.
Possible Causes of Homesickness
Homesickness can be caused by various factors, such as:
- Separation from family & friends – Moving away from loved ones can be emotionally challenging and cause sadness and loneliness.
- Changes in routines & lifestyle – Adjusting to a new daily routine and lifestyle, including new academic and social demands, can be overwhelming and create a disconnection.
- Unfamiliar environments & cultures – Being in a new environment with different customs, traditions, and social norms can create a sense of disorientation and uncertainty.
- Academic & social pressures – Balancing academic requirements and social activities can be stressful and create stress that can exacerbate feelings of homesickness.
Symptoms of Homesickness
The symptoms of homesickness can vary from student to student, but typical symptoms may include:
- Feelings of loneliness, sadness, and nostalgia for home
- Loss of interest in activities
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing on academic work
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty eating
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, and fatigue
Coping Strategies and Tips for Homesickness
Some of the best coping strategies and tips for homesickness for teenagers living in the UK are:
1. Stay connected with family and friends
One of the best ways to cope with homesickness as a college student or teenager is to stay connected with family and friends back home. Thanks to the power of technology, it’s now easier than ever to stay in touch with loved ones no matter where you are.
Some tips to stay connected with family and friends include:
- Video calls: Scheduling regular video calls with family and friends is a great way to stay connected and catch up on each other’s lives. Platforms like Skype and Zoom make it easy to have face-to-face conversations and share experiences with loved ones in real-time.
- Social media: Social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be great for staying connected with friends and family back home. You can share updates about your life and see what your loved ones are up to.
- Care packages: Receiving a care package from home can be a great way to feel connected and loved. Whether it’s your favorite snacks or a handwritten note from a loved one, care packages can help you feel less alone and homesick.
2. Explore the new environment
One of the best ways to overcome homesickness is to embrace your new surroundings and make the most of your time in your new location. By exploring your new environment, you’ll learn more about the area, its culture, and its people. You’ll also be able to create new memories and experiences that will help you feel more connected to your new home.
Here are some practical tips for exploring your new environment:
- Go on a walking tour: Many cities offer free walking tours to help you know the area and its history. These tours are a great way to meet other people and learn more about your new home.
- Visit local attractions: Whether it’s a museum, park, or tourist attraction, take the time to explore what your new environment has to offer. Not only will you learn more about the area, but you’ll also meet other people and make new memories.
3. Make new friends
By making new friends, you’ll have a support network in your new environment and feel more connected to your new home. It takes time to build strong relationships, but by taking small steps and being open to new experiences, you can create meaningful connections that will help you overcome homesickness and thrive in your new environment
Here are some practical tips for making new friends:
- Attend social events: Look for social events on campus or in the local area and attend them. These events are a great way to meet new people and make friends.
- Join a club or organisation: Joining a club or organisation on campus is a great way to meet people who share your interests. Whether it’s a sports team, debate club, or volunteer organisation, joining a group can help you meet new people and make new friends.
- Volunteer: Volunteering in your community is a great way to meet new people and give back to your new home. Look for local organisations that align with your interests, and see if they have any volunteer opportunities.
- Be open-minded: Making new friends requires an open mind and a willingness to try new things. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and meet new people, even if it initially feels uncomfortable.
4. Explore the new food taste
One of the best ways to learn about a new culture is through its food. If you’re an international student in the UK, you’ll likely encounter a variety of new foods that you’ve never tried before.
Here are some tips for exploring new food tastes:
- Try local dishes: Local dishes are a great way to experience the local culture and cuisine. Visit local restaurants and markets to try traditional dishes, and ask for recommendations from locals to find the best spots.
- Cook with local ingredients: If you enjoy cooking, use local ingredients to make your dishes. This can be a fun way to experiment with new flavours and learn more about the local cuisine.
- Attend food festivals and events: Many cities and towns in the UK host food festivals and events throughout the year. These events are a great way to sample various foods and learn more about the local food culture.
It’s OKAY to feel homesick!
Allow yourself to feel your emotions and then practice self-care. Take time to do things that make you happy and help you relax, such as reading a book, walking, or practicing yoga.
Take care of your physical and mental health by eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. And don’t be afraid to seek support from others, whether through talking to a friend or reaching out to a counselor.