The City & The Northern Girl #7

D-DAY!

Image: Tom Soper. /www.flickr.com/photos/tomsoperphotography/
Image: Tom Soper. /www.flickr.com/photos/tomsoperphotography/

T-minus 6 hours and counting…

That is until I finally pack up my bags and venture back down south. Where on earth have the past three and a half months gone? I am sure I am not alone in thinking the usual pre-term, can-I-really-be-bothered-going-back-to-university thoughts, especially if you live away from home during term time. I’ll be honest, I’m dreading it. Not because I don’t love QM, it’s been the best year of my life to date, but unfortunately I’ve returned to my old routine and it’s safe to say I’m loving it. I get to see my high school friends, return to my lovely job and, of course, I’m back with my family 24/7. It’s like the past 9 months of living in London haven’t actually happened and instead, I’ve been teleported back to the exact same position I was in this time last year: a half excited, half apprehensive Fresher.

Everyone experiences homesickness at some point, whether it’s the quick text your Mum sends to check if you’re okay or the absence of a full Sunday roast that sets you off. Either way, my homesickness lasted a good three months in my first year, and even after I settled in to campus life, I still had the odd day or two when I rang my Dad and just said “Can I come home please?!”. University is a huge change to your life and being away from your family and friends can seem daunting. You go straight from being in a place where meals are cooked for you and your washing is done to a place where, dun dun dunnn, you have to do this all yourself. Hello deep end…

But university can also be the best change to your life. For me, it’s allowed me to grow up, take on new challenges and meet people from completely different cultures and countries. It’s just about learning to navigate your way successfully through your new lifestyle, from surviving Fresher’s Week to doing your first weekly shop on a ridiculously small budget – FYI Sainsbury’s Basics just became your new best friend.

So as one ex-Fresher to another new Fresher, here are my top 5 (tried and tested) tips help make the transition from home to campus just that little bit easier.

1) Make your room homely

Whether it’s your old teddy or even just a determination to make your room as pink as possible, adding a few homely touches to your room can make a huge difference. Adding posters, a vase of flowers or fairy lights can transform any room and make it feel like a home from home. And don’t forget the most important one – photographs of your friends and family! Definitely an essential to any notice board. Plus it gives you something to do after your parents leave you and head back home (just don’t forget to buy some drawing pins!).

2) Don’t go home too often

I know it seems stupid, but this actually helps. Best thing you can do is just head to university and stay there until you settle in fully. Skype or FaceTime will become crucial parts of your life and are always there as an alternative to actually going home to see your parents or friends. You can chat for as long as you like and it’ll be just like talking to them in person. Reading week is usually just 7/8 weeks into the term so if you can last that long, head home for a week, if only for a good meal and to get all that washing done. Going back home usually makes you realise that you’re not missing anything major, as I stupidly thought last year. Your hometown is usually just as boring as you left it!

3) Join a society or a club

First thing on your agenda should DEFINITELY be to head down to the Fresher’s Fair, usually held in your first week of term. Check out all the societies and clubs on offer, and sign up to as many as you like/fancy (and don’t forget the free stuff they hand out too, an incentive if there ever was one!). First year is the perfect opportunity to try new things and make as many friends as you can, and joining a society/club is a definitely a good place to start. Plus it will keep you busy and your mind away from home, which leads me on to my next point…

4) Keep yourself REALLY busy

The worst thing you can do is to keep to yourself as you’ll definitely end up feeling lonely. Sitting in your room whilst everyone else is having a good time outside will just make your homesickness worse as the more time you spend on your own thinking about it, the worse it will get so get up and explore! London is literally on your doorstep so have no shame: grab a flatmate, whack that camera out and act like the tourist that deep down you know you are.

5) Remember – everyone’s in the same boat

Most people at uni, and especially the ones in halls, will be going through the same emotional rollercoaster as you. There’s no point in feeling embarrassed about it – it’s not like school and most people tend to be a lot more understanding. Go and talk to a friend or a flatmate and tell them how you’re feeling, you might find they were feeling the exact same way! If they are, it is a perfect excuse to do something together to take your mind off things. As the saying goes, ‘A problem shared, is a problem halved’.

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