Photo credit: m kasahara (via Flickr)
Advice

How to make a home away from home

By Sara Pasino

Whether you are an international student like me or you come from Newport, you are very likely to feel homesick at some point of your stay in Cardiff. So here are my top tips to overcome homesickness.

First of all bear in mind that it is absolutely normal to miss home and you are not alone! Most likely everyone you meet is going through the same thing at the start of the year. This is why you shouldn’t feel ashamed to talk about it. Open up to your friends, family, a tutor, the student support or call the Cardiff Nightline if you’re really struggling.

My second tip is to get involved in the atmosphere! Join as many societies as you can, go to the give it a go sessions and to the socials. You’ll meet people who share your passions or who come from your hometown and it will be a lot easier to make new friends.

Homesickness won’t go away overnight, but a night out could help you to avoid thinking about it and feel better.
Meeting new people can sometimes be difficult, but the best way to overcome your fears is to do something that scares you. So, don’t be afraid to start a conversation, whether it is with your classmates, housemates or the guy in the queue at the supermarket.
Get out of your comfort zone and you’ll discover a wonderful world.

Thirdly, I strongly recommend visiting different locations in Cardiff and Wales. The university organises a lot of trips (such as VIVA trips), but you can simply wander around the city with a couple of friends. You’ll have fun, discover new places, keep yourself busy and hopefully start to miss home a little less.

Of course, keep in touch with your family and friends back home: it’s always comforting to hear a familiar voice when you feel a little bit overwhelmed by the crazy university life. Technology is an amazing tool for those of you who are coming from far away, but don’t overdo it. There is no point in spending hours on the phone when you could go out and have the time of your life with your new friends.

On the other hand, if you are from the UK, maybe you could plan a trip to your hometown and bring some of your new friends along. In addition to this try and keep up with your good habits and make a routine; it will help you feel comfortable and less stressed out in your new-found independence. Go for a walk every day, take time for yourself, try a new sport or just exercise regularly.

And last, but not least, I also found it very helpful to decorate my room, it made me feel more at home.
Go and buy some nice lights, pillows or blankets, print some pictures of your friends and make your house cosy. And why not involve your housemates? It will be the perfect opportunity to get to know each other and spend some quality time together. But most importantly let life surprise you, because home is where your heart is.

(Image via m kasahara – Flickr)

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