Overcoming loneliness and homesickness.
In the movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Evelyn says of living in their new environment,“Initially, you are overwhelmed, but gradually you realise it is like a wave. Resist and you’ll be knocked over. Dive into it and you’ll swim out the other side.” This is one positive way of approaching your feelings of loneliness and homesickness.
Am I homesick?
The word homesick encompasses its meaning very clearly in its two words. You are sick because you are away from home. You feel sick, physically and mentally, because you have changed your life pattern and are separated from all that home means to you.
Experiencing daily life in a new setting, missing the life you led with family and friends, is at the same time exciting and frightening in its newness and challenges. Highs of elation at starting a new course, making new friends, settling into new accommodation are often countered with lows of sadness caused by the same things that make you happy!
Do the following thoughts occupy your mind?
If so, you are homesick in some way, but do not despair. You will swim out the other side!
Can I feel homesick even when my family lives in Dunedin?
The feelings felt when you are homesick can arise even if you are in your own familiar environment, when you feel alone and somewhat frightened as you embark on a new course of study in your life.
While you attempt to adapt to this new study routine, a radical change in your lifestyle, you may feel overwhelmed by those waves of emotions which knock you over with no one seemingly out there to pull you back onto shore. You truly feel like you are drowning.
Sound frightening, a bit weird? Stop reading as you are not suffering from the culture shock of studying!
However, if this is making sense, keep reading!
Feelings of loneliness while in your own paradoxical “comfort zone,” and feelings of homesickness when in a completely foreign setting, are totally normal so be reassured. By understanding what is happening to you, you are already on the voyage of dealing with your negative emotions, and the next stage is to adopt strategies to overcome them.
All will be well in the end, and if it isn’t, it isn’t the end.
What is happening to me?
Setting out on a new course of study and therefore forming new daily routines, you are bombarded by so many changes that sometimes your body has difficulty adjusting. Your sleep patterns change and a lack of sufficient sleep can cause unpredictable bouts of crying which are out of character. If you develop debilitating headaches, your body is telling you that you are not coping with the stress of adjustment. You see escaping back to the welcoming arms of the familiar as the solution to easing the pain.
You may feel like giving up your studies, but don’t. Help is at hand!
How can I help myself?
Feeling in control of your life is paramount in your ability to cope with anything. By identifying your feelings and understanding what is happening to you, you can accept any negative feelings and take steps towards making yourself feel better.
If you miss someone, look at their photo and know you will see them again. Plan a holiday in a semester break to meet up with them so you have an end point in sight.
If you are fearful at the changes which have occurred so suddenly, reach out in confidence to another person, knowing that others also share your fear. By talking with others, you will be surprised how many are in the same boat!
If you are unmotivated, entice yourself outside with one enjoyable activity to do each day. Highlight not only deadlines in your study diary, but also your days off.
If you need help with your studies, feel free to contact the Student Success team. You can talk with someone on campus, or telephone or email for advice.
If you feel unable to cope on your own, or even if you are just feeling down, you are welcome to contact your Counsellors at the Otago Polytechnic Counselling Service.
If you need help with your studies, feel free to contact the Student Success team. You can talk with someone on campus, or telephone or email for advice. If you feel unable to cope on your own, or even if you are just feeling down, you are welcome to contact your Counsellors at the Otago Polytechnic Counselling Services.
When will the loneliness and homesickness end?
In the movie, the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Sonny says “All will be well in the end, and if it isn’t, it isn’t the end.”
Persevere through these first two months, and you will be richly rewarded. You will smile as you look back at that scary wave knowing that you have swum out the other side!
Need to talk to someone?
Student Success team