Tomás Heneghan writes homesickness, how it's inevitable that you'll get a pang of it and what you can do to keep it at bay

Homesickness is something that gets to most people eventually, especially when you’re living away from home for college. From freshers to postgrads, it can be one of those universal September issues, like Monday’s being that one bad day a week for most people.

Admittedly being a first year and moving away from the parent’s apron strings for the first time is probably the most difficult time in college life. You’re only just reaching the end of your teens and you want to be independent. You want to be in a place where you don’t have to answer to parents or justify where you are at two in the morning.

With all the advantages though, we sometimes forget that many Irish college students are remarkably sheltered and it’s only when we move away for the first time that we realise just how dependent we actually were.

After four years of living away from home I still get the occasional pang of homesickness, whether it’s caused by the smell of a fresh fire on the walk into college on a cold morning or even just those home comforts everyone forgets about until they no longer have them.

There are ways to combat all this though. The general advice seems to be to join clubs and societies on campus. It’s really about finding that niche where you best fit. Don’t join the karate club just because your friend from secondary school, who happened to choose the same college as you, has decided to join it. 

It might seem like a bit of an uncomfortable jump to go out there and find what suits you but it is the best thing you can do when you first start college. With so many clubs and societies, there should always be at least one which speaks to your interests. 

To combat my own homesickness in first year, I joined some brilliant societies and clubs. I called home whenever I needed to. I didn’t go home very often but just enough to keep me from missing any changes there. I went on weekend breaks to family who were in college in Cork. 

A lot of people do go home every weekend though and that’s completely worthwhile if it helps combat their homesickness. I know travel costs can be restrictive of how often a student does go home though. This is why it’s so important to find something, like clubs and societies, to get involved with.

Other things I’ve found effective include cooking something every now and again that you would regularly eat at home. It’s those little things, like cooking a stew or a Sunday roast, that can sometimes make a better day for you.

There really is no perfect solution but the best way to comb homesickness is to find all those little things you miss about home, and then replicate them where you can. A key thing is to realise it’s completely okay to say you’re homesick, at any stage during your college life. You can also usually speak to different college services or sometimes even lecturers about it. Even that can give some bit of comfort when it’s needed.