One thing I didn’t realise until I started at UL was how much I was actually going to miss home. While I immensely enjoyed my first year of college, there was always too much excitement to get on a bus home on a Friday and always too much worry of going back on Sunday. I missed the typical routine of being at home and living in my comfort zone and having the friends from home near me.
Homesickness is a completely normal thing to experience, it’s the first time a lot of us have moved away from home, some people even moving from different countries, I’m literally only an hour bus journey from home but when it doesn’t feel like the place you’ve called home for all of your life, it can be difficult to adjust. I am going to share my top tips of keeping homesickness at bay:
1. Get involved in UL activities
UL have so much to choose from, there is a broad range of activities from the student council (my personal favourite!) to joining clubs and societies. There is something to join to fit all types of hobbies and interests: every sport you could think of, comedy societies, Enactus UL, ULFM. You’ll get to do something enjoyable and make countless new friends with the same interests of you.
2. Catch up on college work
This may seem like a dreadful one but one thing that kept my mind off home was heading to the library on a quiet evening and did some study. One of the key things to success is to keep on top of the work on a regular basis which is near impossible but it can be so useful to use to keep yourself busy. You’ll actually feel so much better when you’ve caught up on lecture slides and readings and getting assignments done instead of panicking two hours before submission deadlines. It was definitely one of the best ways I took my mind off things and had great outcomes for my QCA.
UL have a great system called the Presidents Volunteer Award, where you volunteer on a regular basis and can obtain a bronze, silver or gold award, depending on the number of hours volunteering you do throughout the academic year. It’s a great way to give something back to the community and its put on your student transcript, another benefit for when you graduate! There are opportunities all over Limerick to volunteer so you will actually get to know the area a bit better and actually get used to it.
4. Keep in regular contact with friends and family
Be sure to keep in contact with relatives and close friends from home on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be every day but it’s good to talk to the people your close with to catch up on what your family have been up to or the latest drama your friends have gotten themselves into!
5. Take regular visits home
It can be difficult for people who live far away to take regular visits home but if you can at all go home for a weekend. My weekends home were definitely what made me feel so much better when I got to go back to see everyone and go out to my local. It makes the stretch in the week away from home that bit smaller cause you’ll be spending a good portion of your time at home and makes it easier to come back for college.
6. Socialise around UL
UL definitely has the best social atmosphere I have seen. From Wednesday nights at The Stables, to the best DJs in Habitat, there is definitely so many nights out to choose from. Or even if you’re looking for a quiet night, the cinema is about 15 minute walk from the East Gate entrance or there’s the UL Arena to go to a wide range of classes or a gym session with your fitness buddy with definitely the best range of equipment I have seen.
7. Counselling Service
Sometimes the homesickness may affect you where you may feel you need to share your thoughts. UL have an excellent counselling system in place. They have brilliant staff there who are open and caring and will help you deal with whatever problems a new setting may have. They have a drop-in service for you to explain why you called in and they will decide to go from there.
These were my best ways of dealing with homesickness when I was in first year. To all the students reading this who feel the same way, don’t worry it really does get easier! I came in as a first year who missed home every day and longed for my weekends home, now I am going into third year after spending the whole summer working in Limerick. UL is a great place, when you learn to balance home and college you’ll actually find that you’ll end up with two homes and who knows UL might become your favourite!