Donegal student Niamh Shields shares practical ways to beat the feeling of homesicknes.

I can recall my first night in college so clearly, I was a new first year excited to start her new life, her new Dublin world as an independent woman. As soon as my sister left my student accommodation to head back to the Hills, I felt the biggest lump in my throat and sobbed all night. I wasn’t ready to be an independent Beyoncé, I wanted to be home. But with time, and a lot of phone calls home for reassurance, I began to be an independent lady.

Homesickness comes and goes in waves, and it can hit any student at any moment, it is perfectly natural. As the saying goes:

You can take the girl out of Donegal, but you can’t take the Donegal out of the girl.

Here are a few tips to beat the homesickness feeling:

Keep in regular contact:
Whether it be four hours, two hours, an hour away from home, it can lonely being away from home, no matter the distance. I think ‘balanced’ communication from home is key. Initially, hearing from home may be tough, because hearing Mammy’s voice makes us just want to hop on the next John McGinley home.

However, it does get easier and parents will give you comfort and reassurance. I like to text my mum, every morning to tell her my plans for the day and then I phone call her in the evening to let her know how my day went. By doing this, I’m keeping in contact with home but also wanting to keep busy to tell them all the exciting things I have done.

Keep Busy:
Being an Arts student, my timetable is very bare and in the beginning weeks of college I was completely isolated with nothing to do, dwelling about home. My advice, would be keep busy, whether it be a day into town, a trip to the library, the gym or catch up with friends, be a busy bee!

Clubs and Societies, keep my mind distracted hugely. I am heavily involved DCU HerCampus and this tackled my homesickness and gave me numerous opportunities.

I first started off as a writer, anxious and nervous to now being editor and best friends that I live for life. Not once when I’m with the HerCampus team do I feel homesick. Clubs and Societies hold many events to make you feel involved and make friends.

Make Your Room Homely:
I make sure my college accommodation is just like my home sweet home in the Hills. Get yourself scented candles your Mammy uses, my favourite is any rose scented candle as mum hates it and dad loves it, their stupid little arguments about the scent always makes me laugh.

Photographs are also another idea for a home effect. I placed a picture of my sister, my mum and I beside my bed. My two best friends.

I also have a jar of sand from Dooey Beach in my room, as It was it my favourite place as a child and holds great memory. Pieces from home make you feel as though you haven’t even left!

Being homesick is by far the loneliest feeling in the world, you feel hopeless, but remember it does pass. Everyone goes through this, it a big transition being home and moving to a new county by yourself.

Keep yourself busy and try not to isolate yourself. Make regular visits back home, the journey flies in with the excitement of going home. I go home every second week and although I do get homesick from time to time, I just think of the fun I will have when I return home and it cheers me right up!

Hang in there my fellow home-birds,
Niamh Shields x