After a long holiday, like all students, you get used to the home life – the world of simplicity. You become complacent again, your food is cooked for you, and maybe even your washing washed. You get back to university and almost, as I call it, ‘forget how to student’. Your room immediately reminds you of your old environment of isolation and lack of face to face socialisation. Not for all, but for a lot. You remember the pains of being mature, you have to walk or bus everywhere, clean, and tidy etc. (the transition to full-adult-life is difficult ok!). You probably have exams coming up, did little work over the holidays and now overwhelmed with the feeling of ‘I just cannot be bothered’, and maybe, ‘I just want to return home’.
I, and on reflection, the clear majority of people I spoke to, feel/felt the same. I remember returning in January and really wanting to go back home. I had exams in around a week. I did little work over the holidays (many, many regrets). This explains why so many students drop out after the Christmas period: the homesickness returns. Interestingly, at the end of the Easter period this feeling is far less for me personally, and probably similar for many others. Whether this is because exams are not as close and teaching is not yet complete, or because I have settled in, I don’t know. Probably both. But there is still inevitably that underlying worry.
For homesickness, click here.
Home reminds you of everything you had, and, in a sense, university reminds you of everything you have lost. University is portrayed as this great experience, which don’t get me wrong, it certainly fulfils. But this overly used and over-simplified, cover-all term almost hides the turmoil that university brings to your life and the radical, sometimes expected or unexpected changes it provides. Whether you wanted it or not.
It’s easy, as I certainly did in the January, to feel extremely down, demotivated and homesick. One of the best things to do, as mentioned in previous blogs, is to stay busy, especially in the evenings. Occupying yourself and reducing this isolation, especially if you live in an unfortunate flat, will help you to regain motivation and rebuild your personal wellbeing. Giving yourself something to aim for is always advantageous when it comes to productivity.
Don’t place an overwhelming amount of pressure on yourself. Yes, work hard, try your best, but if you are putting so much pressure on yourself that you become incredibly upset, or maybe even ill, it really isn’t worth it. Your mental state is so important. And if you’re a first year, it doesn’t count. This doesn’t give you the mandate to do nothing, still do the best you can, but see first year as an experiment. See what revision technics work, what you would change for next time, and alterations to exam technique etc.
After a couple of days as you become more accustomed to university life again, things will improve. Whether this takes shape after the exam period, or a couple of days, things will get better. For instance, after exams when I returned home, I did not want to go back to university. But after a couple of days of teaching, bringing new modules and new motivation, I settled in again. Not completely, but substantially better than before. At times I did still feel homesick, but I stayed busy and settled in. Overall, I have absolutely loved second semester. I feel as if I have settled, I feel comfortable where I am, I have a great set of friends and friendship groups. In this respect I am lucky, and I am sure that many don’t feel the same. It is true that for some, second year is when they settle and first year never quite feels right. To a certain extent, I feel a bit like this. A student flat is nothing compared to a house.
As you progress after the holidays, things do get easier. You will settle in again. Exams may/will be difficult. You will probably hate it. Aim for what comes after, be it the holidays or the beginning of a fresh semester. Remember to take breaks during revision, have time off. Go out, see friends, fill your time. By doing this the motivation will flow and your results will improve.
The advice is always the same, but it always works.
Thanks for the read,