Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Homesickness

When applying to universities, distance wasn't something I gave much consideration. I mean, it was a slight factor in my choices but ultimately, I cared about going to a good university, somewhere fairly nice and where I really liked the course. Looking back over my time at university so far, I don't regret my choice. In fact, I couldn't be happier being in the North West; going to a university with an amazing geography department; being somewhere new where I can explore great places like the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, Arnside and Silverdale, the Fylde Coast. But something I didn't anticipate when I applied was how homesick I would feel.

It’s a strange thing leaving home. Some of us can't wait for the day, others dread it. I seemed to swing between the two, staying for longer periods of time on the latter the closer it came to the day itself. As a young teen and even up to age 17 or so, I'd always dreamed of that time I could be independent, live by myself away from my dad. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my dad to pieces but he can be somewhat difficult to live with at times. During those times, I'd get comfort from the idea of moving out but as I got older, those times seemed to become less frequent, maybe because I stopped being a grumpy hormonal teenager, maybe because my dad got a little better or maybe a mix of both. So when fresher’s hit, I was apprehensive to say the least.

The first term of University was a whirlwind of blurred new faces, nights out, trying out various societies and sports, going to lectures, tutorials, balancing the budget to allow a somewhat healthy lifestyle yet also to accommodate all other expenses. My brain was constantly overwhelmed by new new new so I didn't have time to feel homesick. The next thing I knew it was time to go home for Christmas and see the family, the friends and generally catch up with everyone I'd not seen for months.

It wasn't until second term hit that things changed. The newness of everything faded and deadlines piled up, friends true colours began to shine, time became a limited resource and I dedicated myself to one club only,, and no longer accepted every request for a night out. It was during this period of second term when I finally had some time to think and I realised that who I'd been during the first term hadn't truly been myself, who I'd made friends with weren't really people I could trust, I'd barely visited any of the places I'd promised myself I would and I'd been doing things that weren't giving me any fulfilment. It was at this point that the homesickness struck. I missed my family and their unwavering support. I missed my true friends, the ones who really knew me and liked me for me, not some version of myself that I'd felt pressured to be. I also missed the feeling of having a life that exists in one place. Neither university nor my family home truly felt like home, I was a split person who felt like she was living a split life.

So I felt alone, and sad, and slightly stressed but luckily I had Skype so I could keep in contact with the people I was missing. Things weren't so bad but I kept myself holed up in my room, avoiding people as much as I could and that too didn't feel right. So I decided it was time to redo myself. Make some new friends, focus on those who I felt comfortable to be myself around, do things I enjoyed, visit places I've always wanted to go that were nearby and focus more on studying and learning. And also importantly, keep in regular contact with those I really missed. Things finally started to look up and for the most part, they stayed that way.

Being homesick is a natural part of moving away and starting somewhere new. Homesickness can manifest itself in all sorts of ways and that’s okay. Recognise it, take steps to manage it and most importantly, don't let it prevent you from doing the things that you love. Use it as an encouragement to do great things that will fulfil you and make you happy as ultimately, your happiness is a big factor in determining your level of homesickness.







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Monday, 6 July 2015

10 Years

"Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?"
It's these kind of questions that I hate with a passion. In 10 years time I will be 29. 10 years ago I was 9. Going by how much my life has changed in the last 10 years, it seems inconceivable to me to be able to know what I want in the next 10 years. When I was 9 I wanted to be an actress or an artist. Or maybe I was going to open up my own restaurant with my best friend Charlie. We were going to have cornflakes with maple syrup as our speciality dessert. Today, I am no longer friends with Charlie. I no longer want to open up my own restaurant. I no longer want to be an artist. I no longer want to be an actress, although there is a part of me that does occasionally fantasise about being in a huge theatre production of Les Miserables, but that's besides the point.


Today I'm 19 years old. Today I'm studying for a degree in Geography. Today I fantasise about living somewhere like a farm in the middle of nowhere, being as self sufficient as I can possibly be, doing things I love. But still, I'm at university, studying towards a degree that I love, getting ready for my exams and getting prepared to study abroad for a year. Who knows where I'll be in 2 years time? Who know's how my experiences will change what I want in life, where I see myself?

I think as a society we get too caught up in the long term plans. It's good to have them, don't get me wrong. It's good to have goals and to think about the steps to achieve them but at the same time I think it's unfair to put so much pressure on people to know these things. And frankly, I think it's naive to put much weight on the answers to these questions as so much can happen and change in 10 years. Especially at the age that I am, it seems that everyone is expected to know what they want to do, know how they're going to achieve it despite having a limited experience of what the world is actually like outside of the realm of home. Everyday I learn something new and every year I feel like I grow and change. I believe that it's okay not to know what you want to do in 10 years time or at least feel like it can be changed. The amount of pressure put on people to stay on the path you choose at 16, 17, 18 is crazy. Everyone should be made to feel that it's acceptable to change your mind. There is no way that the person you are now is going to be the exact same person you'll be in 10 years time and sometimes that means your dreams and passions change. It's okay to not have a long term plan and it's okay to have one, just make sure you know that you should do what you want to do. You shouldn't ever be made to feel like a failure for changing your mind.

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