By Aoife Burke
Homesickness is defined as the stress of being away from home. Home is a reminder of attachment objects, such as your old bedroom. I’m a second time undergraduate, as I went to college before, but I can still remember the painful memories of being away from home for the first time as a 19 year old.
There are little things you can do to overcome homesickness, but remember, it is unlikely you will be on your own for long. When I was in college, I lived in digs for the first time (we were served dog hair dinners!) and by the time second year rolled around, I had a nice group of friends from my course. We cooked for each other, shared washing powder, studied together and, of course, drank together. There was one local nightclub we would go to that had sticky floors and watered down vodka. I count myself lucky, as I was able to experience the student lifestyle at that age and, although the course was hard, we all graduated.
So what can you do? There is the housing crisis and increased competition for college places. As you have made it to college, congratulations! Now where to meet people? I strongly discourage certain local meet up groups off the internet. Maybe it’s just my experience of living in Dublin for 6 years, but these people can attract dodgy types. Try clubs and societies with NUI Galway. Join a WhatsApp group for your course so you guys can help each other out. I would consider NUI Galway’s campus to be a safe campus and it is okay to strike up a conversation anywhere, even in Smokies, my new favourite haunt. You will find your places and people in college, it just takes a little time.
A favourite pastime of mine is to watch YouTube videos of student hauls on the internet, where you can pick up tips on how to make your student accommodation more homely with simple things like fairy lights and fluffy cushions. The change your scenery may ease your longing for your actual home.
You need to remember that homesickness is very normal and the answer is not always to turn to drink. Alcohol is a depressant and will make you feel worse, as well as eat at your pocket. You don’t need to go through this alone. There is a counselling service and medical centre on campus. You should also have a student mentor on your programme, which is where a more senior student meets up with you to make sure you have no problems.
People are in college from all walks of life and you will meet all sorts. Make college a priority above all else. Your people will find you. I also think that if you are sporty, you can meet all sorts of people there. I love to write, so I want to join Writers Soc. It’s so important not to suffer alone. There is a saying that, “life will teach you what you need to know”.
When things go wrong, you need other people to lean on. No man (or woman) is an island! If you are struggling, talk to your student mentor about applying for the financial assistance fund. College can be expensive, depending on your situation, and it’s important to have enough money to meet your costs. Finally, enjoy college, as it passes so fast! Best of luck everybody!