As you may know, York is really diverse in terms of students on campus. So, for a student from a distant country, dealing with homesickness is quite a common topic.
In order to deal with homesickness, an understandably blue feeling, let’s look at reasons behind it first…
International Conversation Afternoons (ICA)
Why do people feel homesick? It’s a feeling linked with loneliness. So why would an international student be lonely? From my own perspective, it is because international students, especially from very distant countries, can find it difficult to find someone on campus that understands exactly what they are going through. In other words, there are few friends who can really share their feelings.
However, the uni provides a lot of support, including a weekly event called ‘International Conversation Afternoons (ICA)’.
These are held every Wednesday afternoon and you can meet both international and local students. I attended at the very beginning when I came to uni and it really helped!
I met several individuals from my hometown, who shared the same language with me. We talked a lot about our feelings, especially homesickness, consoled each other and became friends at last.
I love ICA because it is so casual and so comforting, with tea, cookies and nice people. It’s held in the Alcuin Kitchen, with a beautiful setting! The perfect place to let go off all the blue feelings.
Explore York, the UK, or even the whole world…
More than often, when we have nothing to do, we tend to wonder – and that is the perfect time for homesickness to slide in. So how about making yourself busy with exploring the outside world, instead of staying in your room and feeling blue?
You may say, as an international student, how would I know where to start?
Well usually, during Freshers’ week, you will get leaflets about the must-go-to places in York. For example, the York Minster, the Art Gallery, the National Railway Museum and of course, the Shambles. This was the inspiration for Harry Potter…
As well as that, every college holds many events to help you explore the UK. I am a part of Halifax college and I went to Haworth, the birthplace of Brontë, on a weekend college trip.
The trips are not always exclusive to students of that college. I even took a trip arranged by Alcuin College to Durham on Black Friday.
As you may know, York is really transport-friendly. The train system is quite convenient. It’s only about 30 minutes to Leeds, and 2.5 hours to London. It’s always a good way to go travelling, or simply just shopping with friends to get rid of homesickness.
I decided not go back to China during the winter holidays, which meant I was not with my family during all of the festivities.
To avoid feeling sad, I went to Leeds with my friend and had a nice time with only a little homesickness.
Explore the bigger world and avoid being confined in your sadness of missing home. Since we have already made the decision to study abroad, let’s face homesickness bravely and conquer it with a big smile!
Explore hobbies and societies
Similar to exploring the outside, discovering things about yourself is about changing your concentration.
The University has hundreds of societies waiting for you to join. Or, you can even start a new one! You can continue your hobbies with just a cheap joining fee!
I joined the Music Society for only £9 for the whole year. By doing so, I was able to play the piano in the music room.
As well as continuing your old hobbies, you can also explore new ones!
Take myself for an example: I rarely baked or cooked before. However, with weekly baking sessions held by my college, I gradually raised my interest in cooking and that is a perfect way to forget all trivial feelings like homesickness.
Sometimes, on a Saturday afternoon (especially a rainy one) I will make soup. Looking at the steam from the pot, I feel so calm and relaxed!
You can read more blogs about societies to get an idea of what you might like to be a part of before you arrive.
There are three ways to get rid of homesickness:
First; find friends who you can share your feelings with and talk more as an outlet to let go off those sad feelings.
Secondly; become friends with the world – explore your surroundings, be busy and live a full life.
Thirdly, be a friend to yourself. Sometimes those feelings just exist, so be kind to yourself. Instead of focusing on the negative feelings, pay attention to how to be a better person and how to live a better life.