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Transitions and settling in

Managing Transitions 

There are lots of transitions at university. You may be a returning student, a postgraduate or an incoming first year. You may be going on a year abroad or in industry – or returning from one. Many courses have placements and some students do work experience or internships during their time at Warwick. Whatever transition you face, it can sometimes feel a little unsettling.

  • If you are moving away for the first time - Plan how to stay in touch with family and friends back home 
  • Whether new or returning – look into societies and clubs on campus, have a look at what events the Students’ Union are running and get involved in events
  • Remember to look after the basics of your wellbeing– take breaks and get enough sleep, keep active, get out and about, and eat a balanced diet. 
  • Get yourself into a routine early on. Try to plan your time and have things to look forward to as well as keeping up with academic work. 
  • Find a balance in your life between the necessary, routine and pleasurable activities. Don't spend all your time on one thing 
  • Practice acceptance. Acknowledge what is in your control and what you can do something about. Learn to let go of things you cannot control. 


Research shows that up to 70% of students will experience homesickness in their early days at university. It is a normal part of the experience of leaving home. However, even mild homesickness deserves careful attention. It is a reminder of our need to respect our physical and emotional needs at a time of stress. Yet, for some people the results of homesickness are quite disabling, and need additional support from parents, friends or professionals.

Here are some things you can do to help you settle into Warwick life:

  • Make your room feel as much like a new home as you can 
  • Be open to new people as potential new friends, knowing that they do not replace the family and friends you miss 
  • Try out a University society 
  • Look after your well-being; sleep, food and exercise are all important 
  • Be kind to yourself. Be realistic about your expectations
  • Remember that homesickness can give you a bias view. We can focus on the positive of home, and the negative of university life
  • Going home, or phoning home very frequently, is a mixed blessing. Some say it should be avoided, while others find it comforting. Experience both and discover what works for you 
Typical physical and emotional symptoms:
  • loss of concentration 
  • crying and sadness 
  • difficulties in sleeping or eating 
  • waves of emotion 
  • disrupted menstrual cycle 
  • nausea, headaches or dizziness 
  • trembling, and feeling either too hot or too cold 
Typical thought patterns: 
  • I miss my friends so much 
  • I need to get home, or at least phone home as often as I can 
  • I want to be with my family 
  • I am not coping with looking after myself 
  • I hate having to live with people I don’t know 
  • I do not know who I am here 
  • People here really do not like me
  • I want to cry especially when I am by myself 
  • Everyone else seems fine. Why am I the odd one out? 
So what is homesickness? Why am I experiencing it?

From the moment we are born we make emotional bonds with people, things and places. Gradually these bonds build up to form a hopefully stable environment. When we leave home, we experience a sense of real loss, a bit like grief if a friend or someone else close to us dies. Like grief this loss is natural and usually resolves itself over time. However, it is possible for this loss either to “get stuck” or to be particularly intense. 

The problem is that many people tend to judge themselves harshly, because they think that they should be able to cope, but cannot. Homesickness is not a sign of weakness. You might be surprised as to how many other students feel like you do. Yet, homesickness can be astonishingly de-skilling. Work and concentration may not come easily. 

Everyone may go through different phases of settling in. It has been described as a rollercoaster of emotions. This is a normal reaction to a drastic change in your environment. Stages you might experience:  

  • Honeymoon Phase - excited by all the changes of a new environment 
  • Difficult/shock Phase - feeling nervous and uncertain; maybe experience physical symptoms (see above); maybe feel lonely, missing the familiarity of home relationships; maybe want to withdraw; feel tearful/irritated/upset 
  • Recovery Phase - begin to feel ok, periods of happiness and looking forward to new experiences. 
  • Independence/Autonomy Phase - enthusiastic again and able to integrate new experiences as trust develops to function well in the new situation. This can be a time of energy and creativity with widened experience bringing fresh opportunities. 
Moving through homesickness to settling in

There is a wide range of reactions to being away from home, particularly for the first time. While these may pass quickly, always be prepared to seek help from the wide range of support at Warwick. Please see below for useful resources.  

In the past, the following have been found helpful: 

  • Take time to get used to living at Warwick. Don’t be harsh on yourself if it feels tough at first. 
  • Make your room feel as much like a new home as you can. Make it feel lived in, but cared for. 
  • Value friends as you make them. Be open to potential friends even if they do not replace the family and friends you miss. 
  • Talk to friends about how you feel. You are not alone. 
  • Experiment with belonging to one or more of the many University societies. (See the Students’ Union  website) 
  • Give yourself credit for what you are doing OK. Homesickness can adversely affect self-esteem, and vice versa. 
  • Homesickness can give you a jaundiced view of what you are doing and of what Warwick is like. Challenge negative evaluations.  
  • Remind yourself that these feelings will pass. You are going through a massive change and it can take time to adjust. 
  • Going back home, or phoning home very frequently, is a mixed blessing. Some say it should be avoided, while others find it good and consoling. Experiment to discover what pattern works for you. 
  • Give yourself permission to enjoy things here, even if you miss home a lot. 
  • If home is a difficult place for you, you may feel ambivalent about being away from it. It can feel like bringing unfinished business with you. This will be an inevitable stress. Be gentle with yourself about it. 
  • Homesickness can affect work. See your personal tutor in your department as soon as possible, if work feels an issue. It is a widely experienced thing.  
  • Look after your physical well-being. Do not neglect yourself. Sleep, food and exercise are all important. 
  • Check your personal organisation. Have you a clear and helpful diary or personal organiser? Does your room or somewhere else feel an organised place to work? 
  • Be realistic about when and to what extent you will feel better. It will probably be a gradual process. 
  • Keep a diary, journal or blog to check your progress. 
  • Above all, realise that for some people homesickness brings to the surface other, longer term personal and emotional issues. Be prepared to seek help. 

Useful resources 

At the University of Warwick 


  • Personal tutors or others in your department 
  • Residential Community Team (RCT) 


Support for international students 

For students at the University of Warwick. 

For university students of all faiths and none 

Information and sources of support for international students 

Other Resources 


  • Friends 


Online booklet 

Online articles 

For International students who want to meet a family from the UK which is separate from the University 

Online booklet from Student Minds 

Available from the University Library: 


Book which includes practical tips for student life 

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