How I learnt to feel less homesick at uni

University of Leeds
4 min readSep 7, 2021

Feeling homesick is a natural part of starting uni. Here second-year journalism student Katie Ahearn shares her experiences, plus some tips to help you through.

Three students chat over coffee on a picnic table outside their university residence.
Grab any opportunity to connect with people, even if it’s just a quick coffee or trip to the supermarket.

When I left my house on moving day, I cried.

Although I was so excited, there was no denying the anxious feeling that had been rising in my chest over the past few days. I waved goodbye to my brother, packed the last box in the boot, and strapped myself into the car. After 18 years, I was finally leaving my hometown.

I felt, throughout the journey, confused. How come something I had looked so forward to for such a long time was suddenly freaking me out? I should have known that this was an early onslaught of the dreaded homesickness, threatening the independence that halls had promised me.

With Leeds being four hours away from my home, I had to learn to overcome homesickness quickly, so I could spend time focusing on what really mattered. Here are some things that helped me.

A young woman sits in her university room chatting on her laptop.
Keep in touch with people back home with regular video calls so you can share your experiences.

Video calls are your best friend

Although my immense screen time is a bit embarrassing, video calling is one thing on my phone that I’m actually grateful for. It’s the most fulfilling thing to ring up your family, tell them what you’ve been up to, and see their faces light up with enthusiasm for your future. Chatting through nights out with friends is almost like they’re living it through with you.

Decorate your room

An empty halls room can be intimidating: blank, imposing walls, cold, wooden flooring, and a severe lack of pillows on the bed. Decorate to make your room cosier. The power of fairy lights and cushions is unmatched and will 100% make your room feel more yours, which really helps you feel more comfortable in a new environment.

Photos make you feel connected

Lock screen pics are all well and good, but physical photos are even better. Think of it this way: most likely, your childhood home has pictures of your family dotted around the place. So, by bringing this aesthetic to your uni room, you’ll feel way more connected back home. Plus, it’s a great way of reminding yourself of all the people rooting for your new adventure.

Even conversations while you make tea or cook your meals can help you feel more at home.

Hang out in the kitchen

Bit of a weird one, but the kitchen is the best for making friends with your flatmates. It’s your closest communal area and somewhere you’re all guaranteed to be at some point in the day. I’m not saying you should sit in there all day (unless you want to, of course), but even just hanging around and chatting whilst your pizza’s cooking will do a world of good. It’s surprising how quick you get close with people you’ve never met before!

A group of students socialise in a common room, chatting and playing pool.
Making friends doesn’t mean big nights out — just spending down time together can really help.

Do as much as you can with other people

A huge part of homesickness is feeling lonely. And although it might make you want to lock yourself in your room and cry, socialising is one of the best things you can do to combat it. It doesn’t have to be a mad night out — even doing your weekly shop with a flatmate can be a huge help. You’ll go from knowing nobody to having new mates super quickly — and soon the yearning for those back home will disappear!

Don’t go home!

Leading on from my last point — as tempting as it may be, don’t let yourself go home. I live four hours from Leeds which made it harder to visit, something I’m now very glad for. You need time to settle in and adjust to your new surroundings or you’ll never get comfortable. If you like, plan a visit for a month’s time, so you can get used to uni whilst knowing it’s not long until you see your family again.

Think about your future

If you’re at uni, there’s a high chance that you’re there because you have a certain career path in mind. Being here, you’re closer than ever to achieving that goal. Home is a place of A-Levels, GCSEs, SATs even — who’d want to go back to that when you’re out here getting your degree?

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