Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Learning to cope with change as a student

The life of a student revolves around change. Over my three years at university, I have lived on campus, in Leamington Spa, and in France. I am about to move back onto campus accommodation for my final year. Over Christmas and Easter, I go back home to Suffolk and have spent summers volunteering and working abroad. As fun as it has been, I have really felt the impact of all this change.

Many students have the same long list of living spaces. Some may find it easier to adapt than others, settling in quite quickly. For a lot of students, however, this is not the case.

Struggling with change can often be associated with homesickness

We are constantly having to adapt to new homes as well as new working and social environments. This is particularly challenging in the first year of university. Building a life in a new place is a massive challenge in itself, without the continual disruption. Just as you have settled into your new life, it is week 10 and time to move back home for a month before starting the process all over again next term. How can we adapt and learn to cope with this change?

One of the best things to do is to make each home feel homely. It’s important to bring the essentials to university, but the non-essentials matter too. Photos, posters, fairy lights, plants, souvenirs, books, or anything else that sits on your shelves at home can make a new bedroom feel like your bedroom. For those living in on-campus accommodation, make use of the pinboard in your room and make it your own.

Try not to worry if getting comfortable doesn’t come easily. Allow yourself time to adjust to each new setting, whether you are in your first or final year. Take the time to explore your new surroundings; find your best local supermarket, study space, and bus stop. Knowing where everything is and finding the nice places in your new area is helpful for settling in.

Keeping yourself busy is another good way to tackle homesicknes

Talking to others about how they are coping can also help. Everyone is in the same boat, especially during your first year. Others may be feeling exactly the same and can become a support network through periods of change. If you don’t want to talk to new people, then reaching out to your home support system works well too. Struggling with change can often be associated with homesickness and talking to those at home can help with this.

Keeping yourself busy is another good way to tackle homesickness. When I lived in France, socialising with others and having something to do stopped me from dwelling on the people I missed back in the UK. If you feel the need to go home for a weekend, don’t be ashamed to. This really is one of the struggles of a student – wherever you are, there is always someone to miss elsewhere.

Of course, it is important to have a balance. Keeping busy can be fantastic but it’s also important not to burn yourself out. Striking the right balance between having time for yourself and going out is key and will become easier as time goes on. You don’t have to go to every party, social, and society event, especially at the cost of your own wellbeing.

At the end of the day, there is no quick to fix for learning to cope with change

It can be helpful to look at change in a positive light rather than a negative one. Obviously, this is easier said than done. Rather than an upheaval, that first Christmas break is a good time to stop. Even if you stay at university rather than returning home, it is a perfect time to take a break. You have a chance to reflect on the first term and prepare yourself with a fresh mindset for the second. Moving from place to place can also be exciting in itself, with the chance to explore a new town or revisit an old one. There can even be fun in decorating a new bedroom every year.

At the end of the day, there is no quick to fix for learning to cope with change. There have been times over the past three years where I’ve felt as if I’m constantly living out of my suitcase. However, I know I will miss these times once I graduate. For now, I will move into my final year ready to spruce up my new home and take each move this year as it comes.

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