Creating a home away from home

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Tara Gandhi & Hannah Paterson
Editor-in-Chief & Views Editor

Top tips for shaking off the homesickness blues.

The nights are getting darker, you’re finally recovering from that Freshers’ Week hangover, and deadlines are getting closer. This is when the homesickness emerges, leaving you miserable, eating your way through a box of Celebrations, desperately thinking about mum’s roast dinners and what it was like when you were able to live life without a permanent sore throat. We’ve all been through it, so I’ve put together a quick list of tips that might help you make it through to Christmas.

Make your favourite home-cooked meal

It becomes too easy at uni to fall into the trap of not eating proper meals and instead just surviving on weird mini-meals and snacks throughout the day. You don’t realise how shitty that has been making you feel until you finally have a proper sit-down dinner that is reasonably healthy and at the very least just not a share-bag of Doritos. Ring whoever cooks at home, get a recipe, and buy good quality ingredients – then cook it exactly how you should with exactly what you should, and you’ll be surprised by how much better it makes you feel.

Do a non-drinking social activity

No one is denying the fun of a boozy night in Beer Bar, and they certainly can help when you’re feeling down, but plan an activity that isn’t going to make you feel like shite the next day – watch a movie with your flatmates or eat out at one of the city’s incredible restaurants. Just a small shakeup of the usual monotony of skiving lectures to watch Netflix will at least make you feel like you’re not wasting your time away from home.

Catch up on one lecture you’ve missed

If you’re anything like me, then after a while skipping lectures will make you feel even worse, even if it is the easiest thing at the time. The pressure of the things you need to do builds up, and the Christmas exams tend to sneak up on you. When I get homesick, I make an extra effort to get to lectures and tutorials, knowing that at least then I’m away from my pets for a reason. Most people take their degree because they enjoy the subject, so look through any classes you’ve missed and pick one to catch up on that interests you – it might remind you why you chose to leave home in the first place!

Join a club or society

Not everyone gets super lucky with the flatmates they get allocated and once the fun of freshers’ is over you may find that you don’t have all that much in common. But the university has so many clubs and societies it’s unlikely there won’t be one for you. It’s never too late to get involved – trust me, as someone who runs a society myself we are always looking for new people to take part! (Glasgow Guardian meetings are held every Thursday during term time in John McIntyre building room 208 at 5.30, and we don’t require any previous writing experience!) Socials are a great way to make friends, especially sub-crawls, and even if you are pals with your flatmates it’s always nice to have something to do outside of the flat.

Go on a day trip

There are plenty of places you can visit just a short train ride from Glasgow, and going on a trip either alone or with your friends will reinforce the positives of your independence. You could go and hunt for Nessie, climb Arthur’s seat or even take a trip to the beach – capitalize on all the free time you have in your first year and explore Scotland a little bit.  Keep an eye on the GG’s new travel series “Day Trips” for ideas on where to go and how to get there, and make sure you get a hold of a 16-25 railcard.

Set up some FaceTime family time

Technology is a truly wonderful thing, especially when it comes to being away from home. Having recently missed the birth of my nephew because of living abroad, I have depended heavily on FaceTime to make me feel like I’m a part of such an important time. Not only does it allow you to feel that little bit closer to a family who are far away, it also is genuinely hilarious to watch your parents try to navigate a video call. My usual port of call when I’m super homesick is to FaceTime and get my parents to show me our family dog – the dog gets excited to see me which is amazing and it brings a level of comfort that a phone call just can’t. If you can get your whole family involved it’s even better. This might not be feasible with schedules, but if you’re going to be away for a long period of time, it’s worth setting aside an hour when everyone is free to go a group call. 

Talk to people about it

Chances are, at least some of your friends are feeling the same way you are now, and nearly all of them will have felt this way at some point or another. It seems redundant to say, but a problem shared really is a problem halved, and homesickness is a perfect example of this. Whether you’re sharing stories with your flatmates about how your family usually spends a Saturday, or just watching a movie and feeling a bit sorry for yourself, a sympathetic ear and the sense of relief that you’re not alone will not only help with your feelings of homesickness but will help you build a meaningful bond with your friends for the future. 

Use television and cinema to your advantage

One of the things my mum and I have done since I’ve started going to uni is we pick a TV show to watch together. Most of the time, we’ll try to watch the show together in real-time, so we can text or talk on the phone during it; if that doesn’t work, one of us will watch it first and keep in contact with the other as they watch it after.

This has always brought a real sense of closeness between me and my mum, because movie nights or binge-watching TV shows was always our thing. It’s amazing how watching a TV show at the same time as someone else can make the distance between you feel a bit smaller, but it’s definitely worth a shot.

We all fall victim to homesickness every now and again, especially when the days get shorter and the weather gets shitter. But there are plenty of small things you can do to help you push through, because within 48 hours of getting home you will only be counting down the days until you get back to uni!