I’m now living in my lovely, cosy, three storey student house complete with six bedrooms, five bathrooms, back garden, wifi, fairy lights and cushions! I’ve just finished unpacking, the wardrobe and drawers in my room were definitely designed by The Borrowers. Nevertheless, The Backstreet Boys got me through the stress of fitting ten weeks worth of clothes in a wardrobe narrower than my hips. My parents left yesterday after i’d taken advantage of mum’s credit card in Tesco. I may have mentioned before, i absolutely detest goodbyes. They are the worst thing ever. I just can’t handle them. Whether it’s a simple ‘see you when i’m back from my holiday’ or a ‘see you in a year’, i just cannot deal with them. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, i’m way too emotional all the time…Any hint of sadness and tears pour from my eyes. Secondly, although i can be a bit of a nightmare to be around, i am ridiculously fond of my family and friends so the thought of not seeing someone for a while is unpleasant. Finally, i suffer from that thing people like to call homesickness. A goodbye, for me, signals the start of a roller-coaster of emotions .
I say rollercoaster but i ought to make it clear, it’s more of a carousel now compared to what i used to experience. This isn’t supposed to be a depressing or even a self-centred post. I just want to explain my situation and how i have overcome my own fears about being away from home. The problem with ‘homesickness’ is the fact that those who have been lucky enough to avoid it simply cannot comprehend it. This lack of understanding on the part of the lucky, ignorant ones only makes the problem worse for the sufferers. I use the word sufferers because people with bad homesickness do suffer. Nobody chooses to be uncomfortable away from home, nobody chooses to miss their family so much that they can’t sleep at night…I certainly never chose to feel so alone when i was in a new environment that i could never go on sleepovers between the ages of 8 and 15. Now this all sounds very gloomy indeed. However, i can personally vouch for the fact that, for every person who doesn’t know what it’s like to feel homesick, there are ten people who do. Even the smallest experience of missing home enables a person to empathise with another and, if i’m honest, a problem shared really is a problem halved in these situations.
I used to feel unable to stay at a friend’s house for one night, i dreaded family holidays because they meant i had to stay away from home and i avoided all residential school trips to prevent the embarrassment of crying for the whole time. My first step to overcoming the issue was quite a drastic one. I went to New York with my school in December 2010. I may have felt anxious the entire time and cried for the whole plane journey but when i arrived and saw the beauty and liveliness of NYC, my troubles packed themselves up in my suitcase and i never looked back. After four days in the Big Apple, i realised that i could conquer anything if i could travel all that way without my family and still have an incredible time. Had i not pushed myself in that instance, i don’t think i would ever have made it to University.
I started at Durham in October 2012. I have since admitted that i would have done anything to avoid actually leaving home. I thought of every possible way out. I looked at cookery schools located close to my house and even considered training as a Beauty Therapist so i could work at my Mum’s salon and never leave! All along i knew, deep down, that i would come to University. The prospect of continuing my studies, meeting a load of new friends and making memories was something i could never give up on…but boy was i tempted!!! The first term was nowhere near as bad as i had anticipated; i met so many people in the same situation and the excitement of the new City largely overpowered my downheartedness. I will always feel guilty for the tearful phone calls that i made. I imagine that my parents missed me as much as i missed them and hearing me crying on the end of the phone 180 miles away can’t have been fun.
Getting through that first term was my next step on the road to freedom and terms two and three were magnificent with only a few ‘down’ days. Those days are strange, i tend to wake up and just know that i’ll be a bit emotional. The best thing for me is to cry. It sounds absolutely stupid but when my emotions have been let out, everything seems that little bit better. I know people who think i’m crying because i’m sad or because i don’t like University. It’s neither of those. I am one of the happiest people on the planet but sometimes i just need a good cry! There is no reason for it, as there is no real reason for me to feel quite so homesick.
I am now in my second year and living out of college. Again, the goodbyes were difficult but i am having an amazing time. I woke up this morning and felt a little bit down but that’s natural for me, given my new environment and the fact that i haven’t seen a family member for a good twelve hours! I’m just kidding, it’s about three weeks in when things get a little bit tough but i’ve got plenty of chocolate hidden under my bed for then. Cooking, cleaning and sorting through bills are proving a pretty good distraction!
I guess i’m trying to say several things in this post. I’m attempting to demonstrate how homesickness is not something to be ashamed of. I am perfectly happy to admit that i suffer from it and i do still struggle for a little while when i go away from home. I’m also trying to show how much someone who gets homesick can achieve when they put their mind to it. One night at my best friend’s house used to be my worst nightmare. Now, ten weeks in my own student house is an exciting prospect and one that i am embracing with only a few tears in my eyes. My final intention is to raise awareness about how bad homesickness can make someone feel. I really wish that word didn’t have such a stigma attached to it. When you mention homesickness, several assumptions could be made: spoilt brat missing the cushy nest of mummy and daddy; under-confident young person feeling insecure in new surroundings; attention seeker; sheltered individual who’s not very streetwise…these presumptions are all wrong. Homesickness can affect anyone and the “Oh just get on with it, that’s life” attitude really doesn’t help us. We will ‘get on with it’ as and when we feel ready. For now, please bear with us when we cry and please don’t judge our personalities based upon our feelings.
I believe that i will always carry some form of homesickness around with me. Thus, i am embracing it and using its ever waning presence as a demonstration of how much i have overcome and achieved. Of this, i am proud.
Until next time,