Homesickness is common for people moving away for the first time to go to university
Read Jack Brown's top tips for beating homesickness when it strikes!
The number 42 seems apparent when talking about my life as a student...
I went to university straight from sixth-form, as a fresh-faced 18-year-old, to study engineering in the middle of Shropshire. The sense of community within the campus of about 5,000 students was great, however, being in the middle of nowhere with the nearest town a few miles away with one dingy club, two pubs, and a cooperative food shop, meant at times you felt isolated.
I was fortunate enough to own a car, which allowed me to head home as and when (within reason) I wanted. However, the comforts of home seemed a million miles away when bogged down with assignments on the efficiency of a tractors and combine harvesters, and exams on logarithms, cohesion and friction calculations...
I became incredibly homesick within the first week. My mum would say stop worrying, dad would say come home and Grandma had no idea whatsoever…But I eventually overcame this by the distraction of my friends and the road trip to the cooperative to get Ben and Jerry’s and a slab of chocolate (so much for the gym).
After half the year, I decided pure maths was no longer for me. Let’s say I prefer the ‘Heath Robinson’ and tinkering around with the car sort of engineering to finding the answer to the tensile stress and strain of steel! So, I returned home where I managed to get myself a job at John Lewis. I spent almost a year working on the shop floor, doing anything from Sales and Merchandising to installing washing machines. However, within 42 hours university had once again become an option. I needed my independence back.
I chose to do a Business Marketing course at MMU. I thoroughly enjoy living in Manchester and studying at MMU where there is never a dull moment. There is plenty to do when not doing assignments, plus, my Residential Advisor Role gives me the opportunity to interact with students, organise events and create good networks such as the local PCSO’s and sustainability team. I try and balance this with my role as Duty Manager at the local Waitrose, keeping my fitness up at the gym, volunteering at a Victorian water works (keeping the inner engineer alive), and seeing friends. This (minus sleeping) probably equates to a 42 hour week.
The start to my second year at MMU was difficult. Within the first month my grandma was diagnosed with vascular dementia. This meant we had to move her into a Nursing Home, and I had to help out when I could get back home to Nottinghamshire. Around 42 days later, my mum was diagnosed with stage 3/4 breast cancer, which made that feeling of needing to be home ever more present. She lives on her own, and being an only child meant the duty I felt I had to fulfil was greater than ever. The initial shock was difficult to deal with in the first 42 hours with the prospect of not knowing how she would react to the chemotherapy or what sort of time scale she has left.
In many respects, being an only child does toughen you up. You can’t run away from the situation, you simply have to face your fears, deal with them, and hope for the best. I am fortunate that my home is never far away, I mean, what’s a 2.4 hour train journey home, compared to a flight to the other side of the world which could take 42 hours?
So, my advice to anyone is to treat life as it comes, enjoy it and make the most of the time you are at university with your friends. Missing home is not the be all and end all, no matter how close or far away you are from home comforts. Look forward to going home and seeing relatives, the cat, dog, hamster, and snake, make the most of the time you are at home which usually falls on a weekend, and probably equates to 42 hours.
If you don’t take anything from this, the following quote may answer some of your queries. “The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42” (Douglas Adams; The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy). Read the book and watch the film when you have a spare 42 minutes, hours or days.
Jack’s Top Tips for beating homesickness:
- Keep busy- Get a part-time job, explore your town or city with friends, and never turn down an opportunity to socialise.
- Talk about your problems- With friends, flatmates or your Residential Advisor.
- Look forward to going home and spending time with family- Why not get your mates to come to Manchester and visit you?
- During holidays plan a busy schedule for when you get back- Go out for food with your flatmates, watch a film with friends or catch up on that work you need to do!