For most of you, this will probably be the first time you’ve ever been away from home. Nobody to nag you, ask where you’re going or wait up for you... It also means that there’s nobody to tidy up after you, cook for you or nurse you when you’re sick. It’s completely natural if you feel a little homesick in your first year while you’re getting used to your newfound freedom. This may strike as soon as you’re dropped off on campus or occur a few weeks into the semester.
So what do you do if you’re starting to miss home? Mum’s cooking, your family pets and your cosy own bed? Here are some simple steps you can take to help you settle in:
Bring some home comforts with you
Maybe your favourite pillows, a blanket or some photographs. Make it YOUR room! Just remember, use white tac for any posters or photos so as not to mark your new walls!
Talk about it
Everybody is in the same boat, so speak to a new friend if you’re finding it difficult. Chances are they will be too! Even being around new friends might make you feel a bit better. The lovely people in the Advice Hub can also help you through your homesickness, as can the University’s free and confidential counselling service.
Don’t pretend they’re not there! Schedule a little free time each week to Facetime/Zoom/phone home and keep them up to date with all your news. Every room in halls has a telephone and a direct number where people can ring you (it’ll cost you to ring them). Sometimes a chat with home is all you need.
Take up a hobby
Do something that gets you out of your room every now and then and introduces you to new people from different years and courses. We have a load of societies at the Union; from Pole Dancing to Gaming and Baking to Enterprise, there’s something for everyone. If sports are more your thing, our Sports Union has a wide selection of clubs and teams that cater for all skill levels. Our Edinburgh campus is home to Oriam, Scotland’s national performance centre for sport. There’s never been a better time to become a gym bunny!
The Student Union always has opportunities to help you meet new people and learn some really useful skills and volunteering looks great on your CV! We've got lots of Student Groups that you can get involved with! Spend some time improving academic life here at Heriot-Watt by becoming a Class Rep, School Officer or even a School MP! Maybe Wellbeing is a passion of yours, join our Wellbeing Group, run campaigns and advocate for underrepresented groups! Help us work for equality for groups including LGBT+, Black Asian & Minority Ethnic, Women, Disabled, and International students.
But don’t overdo it. Going home is great and gives you a chance to take any laundry home with you(!), but if you head home every week, you might start to feel disconnected from what’s happening and miss out on all the fun.
If you get ill
Your new friends are lovely, but they won’t want to look after you 24/7 when you’re unwell. Preparation is key! Stock up on things like Cup a Soup, Berocca and paracetamol. If it’s more than just the flu or a cold and you do need some medical help, don’t hold off on visiting the GP. The Edinburgh campus has a Medical Centre which you can sign up to during your enrolment, so there really is no excuse for not dragging yourself down there! At SBC, your local GP is in Galashiels, so again, not far at all!
If you suspect you may have symptoms of COVID-19, make sure to follow the University's guidelines.
So prepare for a little homesickness but don’t worry, in the end, you’ll be embracing your freedom and the independence that living away from home brings. And who knows! You might end up having such a good time you don’t think about home too much at all.