I sat in my train seat, teary-eyed, intently watching the small Tilt Train TV screen as each stop passed, waiting for Bundaberg. For weeks, all I had wanted was to go home…to see my parents, friends, sleep in my own bed, see and experience everything that I missed so dearly throughout my first term at university. This was me a year ago. My first month on college was so exciting…I had moved out of home for the first time, giving me a sense of freedom I had never experienced and I had begun the degree of my dreams! It was all going so well until the excitement wore off and I began to realise the lack of friends, family and quirks taken for granted from home such as not being able to go to town without seeing someone I knew, which resulted in a severe case of homesickness.
Homesickness is a completely normal experience and just another hard part of growing up! I know it may not seem like it now, but making the most of being away from home will result in some essential lifelong benefits! These include developing a sense of self, coping skills and becoming grateful for many things in your life you may have previously taken for granted. How may you achieve such great results? I am pleased you asked! There are many ways in which you can get through this experience, of which I would like to offer my top 5.
- Join a group
…Club, team, society or association that interests you. This provides you with the opportunity to meet prospective like-minded friends. These people can assist your new town to feel more like home, easing the burden of your homesickness. If you have moved to be near your university, you will not have to look far to find such opportunities. Within O-week each year, USQ holds a Market Day which, apart from the opportunity to grab lots of free stuff up for grabs, gives new and continuing students, the opportunity to visit all of the University’s student club stalls and join those of interest. This year, I took this opportunity to join the USQ Charity Committee where I have already met lots of lovely people at our AGM, who I will work with throughout the year, creating events both within the University and wider community, raising money for charities! If you missed Market Day, no worries! The clubs are always happy to have new members. For more information on all of the student clubs at USQ, visit the following website: https://www.usq.edu.au/current-students/life/clubs. If nothing quite interests you, contact Phoenix Central and start your own club! They would love to hear from you! There are bound to be other students at the University who will want to join your awesome new club!
- Do something you enjoy!
This could be anything…from something as simple as going for a serene walk in the Japanese Gardens, closest to Concannon; watching your favourite TV show, playing a sport, cook something outrageous, photographing, attending local markets or enjoying the many shopping opportunities that Toowoomba has to offer. If you enjoy what you are doing, you will develop a far more positive attitude towards your new town and experience!
- Remember why you are here
You have made a life changing decision to move away from your home to attend the university of your choice and degree of your dreams! You are here to be the best nurse, teacher, mathematician…whatever your dream job is. Be proud of it! Make the most of this wonderful experience you have embarked on. You never know what may be around the corner. Hang in there! Your journey has only just begun!
- Talk to someone
All of us have adults in our lives who have moved away from home and experienced everything that you are experiencing at this moment. It is hard. They want to help you get through this! I had been feeling homesick for a couple of days and had been doing a very expert job of hiding it from the world. I was fine to everyone, until Mum called me and asked me how I was…that was it…cue the waterworks! But it was ok. My parents then knew how I was feeling and were able to help.
- Seek advice
If all else fails, seek advice from others to find strategies that work for you. USQ College students have the support of both our Resident Advisors who live with us, as well as our College Community Advisor (Provisional Psychologist), Mel. At USQ, Student Services also offers a range of services to assist USQ students through this experience, including their free counselling service. For more information on the services available at Student Services, visit their website: https://www.usq.edu.au/current-students/services.
You can do this! Homesickness is a normal human experience. Don’t think you are alone. All of us go through this at some stage. Find strategies that suit you and your personality to make each day more bearable, and eventually overcome your homesickness. You can do it!