How to handle Homesickness during Freshers Week


Dora Gawn-Hopkins gives her top tips for managing homesickness during your first week at university

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By Dora Gawn-Hopkins

Freshers week really can be one of the best times you’ll have at uni, so enjoy it. But also know that it’s completely normal to feel anxious about it too. Leaving home, and school, is a huge change, and most people will feel homesick at some point (even if they say they don’t!). The first week is often the worst but there are ways to cope! I really missed home at first, but these things made a huge difference and hopefully they will for you too.

1. Go Say Hi!
Once you’ve said goodbye to your family, friends, or whoever’s helped you move your things in, the best thing you can do is to go and meet your new flat mates. Maybe take some snacks or drinks, (which don’t have to be alcohol of course), or some cards or a speaker, and just get to know each other. You can also meet other people in your block and college and college tours, run by STYCs, are always useful. Hopefully you’ll see some of the lovely campus wildlife, too! Your STYCs should come and meet you and your flat the day you move in, which is so great since you can ask any burning questions you’ve got, and they’ll always have great recommendations for different things to do - in town and on campus. They’re there not only to welcome you to uni, but also to keep an eye out for you; they’ll be a great support network throughout your time at York. Make sure you look out for all the activities they’ll have planned for you during the week, and they will be more than happy to show you around anywhere you’d like.

One of the highlights of freshers' week are the evening events: the drinking and clubbing option or the more chilled hang-out with people from your college. Both are amazing ways to get to know loads of people, including your flat, and to venture out into York. You’ll also have your college quiz to look forward to which is always a laugh. I would seriously recommend doing as many of these sorts of things as you can when you first arrive. It can be nerve-wracking meeting new people, but you are guaranteed to quickly find lots of people who you get on with. It’s one of the best ways to feel less homesick and start settling in.

2. Freshers Fair
One of my top pieces of advice is to not miss out on Freshers Fair! There is without a doubt something for everyone on offer and it’s just such an exciting atmosphere with so many people filling Central Hall and the surrounding buildings, discovering the huge range of societies and clubs York has to offer. Going around with your flatmates or friends you have made during the week will allow you to socialise whilst exploring the fair, and the day will start to immerse you even more into uni life before term starts properly, giving you a real sense of the bustling day-to-day and all the different activities you can get involved with. Again, it’s another great way to keep homesickness at bay and carry-on settling in.

3. Explore!
As I already mentioned, try and go to as many welcome activities run by your college as you can. Doing them with flatmates is always great, but also if there’s one that you really want to do, and the others aren’t as keen then definitely still go. You’re sure to meet like-minded people and have a great time. Just spending time with your flat and getting to know as many other people as you can in your college, or literally just walking around campus, will help you feel less homesick and help you make new friends. When it comes to campus and York itself, exploring with friends and making your own route is also fun, like going to see each other’s departments if you haven’t already, this can be really beneficial, especially if you are doing similar courses.

4. But don’t over-do it!
There are tons of things on offer during Freshers week, so even though it’s great to immerse yourself in as much as possible, make sure you pace yourself, especially with club nights. You’ve got the whole week, and the whole three, four or even five years of your degree, to enjoy so don’t feel like you’ve got to try everything at once. Even if your flatmates or other friends are really wanting to do something, of course you can give it a miss if you want to do something more chilled. Having a week full of events means you won’t miss out at all if you’re not feeling it once or twice.

5. Useful links
Here are some great links from the uni’s website with more advice for your move-in day and first week at York. The last one looks ahead to the rest of the adventure.
Arriving at York - New students' welcome, University of York
Welcome - New students' welcome, University of York
Your success story - New students' welcome, University of York
Adjusting to university life - Student home, University of York

Even though Freshers Week can (and most likely will be!) an exciting welcome to York, the change can also be hard and if you do find yourself struggling and unable to try out these things then please don’t worry. There are incredible support networks open all hours to you in your college and the links offer more guidance on who you can speak to, as well as anyone back home. It also has its own advice for the week, and other great links to help you both during Freshers and throughout your uni experience.

I hope that if you are feeling a bit anxious then this has re-assured you, and I’m sure you’ll have an amazing Freshers week! But if things do become hard then please just look over this list and give these a try. The uni page will also help you if you find these don’t work for you, and honestly even if it takes a few weeks or months, before you know it you’ll be having an amazing time and you’ll wonder what you were even worried about.