With each new year comes the opportunity to set new life goals. For students, it can also bring a spell of homesickness after spending Christmas with family and friends. Here are some top tips on how to combat second term blues and enjoy university life.
Many new students experience homesickness when they first arrive at university – it can even occur for some students who have not moved out of their family home. Homesickness is caused by the removal of someone from familiar places or people and being thrown into environments that are unfamiliar and different to what you have experienced before. Homesickness often dissolves away naturally in the first few weeks of term, as students get involved more in their course and social life.
Most students know about this and accept it but many students are often surprised to find that they don’t enjoy the start of the second term, as much as they had expected – often known as “second term blues”. There are a number of reasons for this:
- The first term can be scary but it is also exciting. Having settled into university, it may not seem quite as exciting and many of the challenges of the first term could still be there
- Students might not expect to feel homesick a second time as they have already left home once but after spending time back home over the festive break, having to leave it again can be tough
- Students may be worried about how much they have spent in the first term and the state of their finances
- A heavy workload or not having done as well as they had hoped in their first term exams may also cause stress for students
- The darker nights and colder weather – a lack of sunlight can have a real impact on people’s moods
Seven top tips to get motivated and combat homesickness
Keep in contact with home but make an effort to make new friends too
Students should decide whether the best policy for them is to have frequent contact with home (because contact makes them feel better) or little contact (because contact makes them feel worse). They should think carefully about whether or not to go home at weekends. Some students find it helps to ease the transition, others find the constant readjustment makes them feel worse. Either way staying socially connected with new friends will make students feel much better.
If they haven’t already, students should make a real effort to join societies/ take part in activities and to make at least one or two new friends. This might feel difficult but the more students feel part of campus life, the less homesick they will be.
Establish a balance between work and leisure
Students should try to be realistic about what to expect from themselves. Establishing a balance between work and leisure is extremely useful – students are not expected to work all of the time. On the other hand, not putting enough time in to their work may mean getting behind, which only adds stress.
Get into a routine
As a species, we need structure and purpose in our days. The fuller students’ days are, the more productive and positive they will feel.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle
A healthy diet, regular exercise, going outside and the right amount of sleep will help students feel much better about life.
Plan a budget
Students will be less anxious once they know the true state of their finances and can demonstrate to themselves that they can manage their money. Most universities provide a Hardship Fund for those students who need additional help.
Talk to someone
If students are worried they should speak to their university’s student wellbeing service, chaplain, students’ union advisor or a member of halls staff, who will be able to support them.