Coming to a new place and starting a new chapter of your life is never easy. When I first came to the UK to start uni, I was willing to adopt a new routine and fully immerse myself into university life and British culture. However, I soon came to realize, it was not easy to leave my old habits and perspective behind (as I was born and raised in Greece). I felt a bit guilty at first, as the University provided such a safe community to make new friends and meet other cultures, but I could not deny the fact that I missed little things, flavours, and habits that I thought I could only find back in my country and family home.
For some of my friends, home was just a train ride away, but for others like me, lots of planning in advance, workload management and having the economic means, are required before planning a trip home from uni. This does not mean that one is more entitled to feel less homesick than the other. Quite the opposite, as everyone at uni feels homesick, but oddly not many people talk about it. So now I would like to discuss with you some of the things I do to manage my homesickness.
EXPLORE FOOD FROM HOME (AND OTHER PLACES)
I would say that the food is the number one thing that I miss from home. My first month here was dedicated to exploring all the restaurants in Bath. I was very surprised to see that Bath has both its own Souvlaki (the most famous Greek wrap) restaurant and a Greek nightclub, all run by Greeks. Walking in there, having a small chat in my native language and tasting the delicious food, definitely helped and it almost became a monthly habit.
However, I also realized that there were so many other types of food that I never had before, such as Thai and Hawaiian, even though I came from a big city. Exploring is good, and a mixture of familiar and foreign food experiences helped me appreciate and celebrate my culture even more. Sometimes making a good family recipe, or trying your own, has the same effect and it makes you feel like home.
GO TO INTERNATIONAL EVENTS AND MAKE INTERNATIONAL FRIENDS
There is a large number of ethnic societies that anyone could join, which frequently organize events with music, food and dancing. I got involved with my country’s society and immediately it was a little escape into a familiar culture. As much as it is important to keep in touch with your roots, it also helps to share your culture and learn about others.
Just by going to the same university or studying the same course you have things in common with other British and international people and the experiences and the perspective you can gain are invaluable. When I went to Arab or other European societies events, I found a sense of familiarity in the music, the partying culture, and the people, which surprised me.
CREATE A COMFORTABLE SPACE AND ROUTINE
Living in a student room or a small apartment can be tough sometimes and it can easily contribute to feeling homesick. I have found that bringing stuff from home really helps, like candles, pictures, decorations, because the colors and items truly make the space feel like it’s yours. I touched the subject of food earlier, but little habits on your daily cooking can also remind your body of its home routine.
For example, I always cook with olive oil and add a Greek salad on the side of some of my meals. There are so many shops around Bath to get ingredients from all over the world. Another suggestion, is to have a standard calling time with your family and if you have pets and you miss them a lot (like me) you can visit local shelters, like Bath Cats and Dogs Home, or use the Borrowmydoggy.com which lets you be a dog walker. I also like to go sit by the campus lake as soon as the sun is out because it reminds me of the summer back home.