Home is the place where you’ll never be a stranger. It’s comfort, familiarity, warmth. Home might be the sigh of relief you let out when you walk through the door, or fighting over who uses the bathroom in the morning. Home might be the warmth of your dog curled up beside you after a long day, or quiet chats over a cup of tea. Whatever your idea of home, one thing that we all feel is the fear of leaving it – in this instance, to go to university.
In some cases it might be that your university isn’t too far from home, and that you can visit on weekends to see friends and family. But for those of you who aren’t in as flexible a position as that, and who are perhaps feeling nervous about the lack of home-comforts at university, here’s how you can say ‘goodbye’ to home without really saying goodbye.
Sift through your photograph collection to find the ones that instantly put a smile on your face. A family holiday, a picture of you and your dog, a group photo of all of your friends. There’s something special about holding a photograph in your hands rather than scrolling past it on a phone or laptop screen, so once you’ve gathered some of your favourites, consider taking them to be printed. The physical copies can be kept in albums, picture frames, put up on walls or noticeboards… enabling you to keep just a little piece of home with you while you’re away.
2) Home Comforts.
Stepping into that empty room with its bleak walls and beige colour palette can make leaving home feel all the more daunting. A few quick ways to liven up your new space are to add posters for a spot of colour, and a bed of pillows and blankets for instant comfort. Keep in mind that in most student flats, the only light option is an on/off switch with no lamp provided, so it’s also a good idea to invest in some mood lighting such as a lava lamp, fairylights etc… for an instantly cosy atmosphere.
3) Sentimental Objects.
We all have objects that we hold dear – ones that we’d reach for first in the unfortunate instance of a fire. A lucky pendant, an ornament that belonged to a great-grandparent, a hand-stitched pillow – whatever it might be, leaving behind items that you feel emotionally connected to will only intensify the feeling of homesick resting on your shoulders. By keeping these connections with you, you are more likely to feel comforted and emotionally in-tune with home.
4) Group Chats.
I’m just going to put it out there – group chats will save your life at university. During first year when everything is new and exciting, family and friends from home will most likely be eager to hear all about how you’re getting on, what culinary delights you’re whisking up in the kitchen, what your classmates are like etc… and you’ll probably find that you’re repeating a lot of the same information. By creating a family group chat or one for your school/college friends, it not only means that you can all keep in touch more efficiently, but you won’t have to keep sending the same message to all of your contacts.
Of course sometimes a quick text just isn’t enough, and you might find that once a week or every now and then you want to sit down with a cup of tea and talk to people from home face-to-face. This is the perfect remedy for days when home feels a million miles away, and you just want to sit down and chat to a loved one as though they were in the same room.
It might be that there’s a traditional home-cooked recipe that you’ll miss. Your Mum’s famous lasagna, or your Grandma’s shepherd’s pie. If they’re kind enough then sneak a portion or two for your freezer at uni and save it for those days when you crave a taste of home. But keep the recipes handy, too, so that you can try your own hand at making them on future occasions. It might not taste quite the same on the first try, but after a few attempts it’ll feel like you never left home.
But most importantly – try not to see university as a replacement for your old home, but rather accept it as a new experience. What works best for you at home might not necessarily be what works best or makes you happiest in your new university environment. Home is more than just bricks and a street sign, and although it’s impossible to take it all to university, there are still ways to keep it with you when you move away…
It’s just about knowing which pieces to take.