Jack’s top tips for beating homesickness

This weeks blog is from Jack Brown, a Residential Advisor and 2nd year Business and Marketing student.

The number 42 seems apparent when talking about my life as a student. It has been quite a lengthy journey; as a fresh faced 18 year old, I originally went to university straight from sixth form to study engineering at a University in the middle of Shropshire. At first, it was great as there was a sense of community within the campus of about 5,000 students, but in real terms being in the middle of nowhere with the nearest town a few miles away with one dingy club, two pubs and a cooperative food shop, at times, you felt quite isolated. I was very fortunate to own a car, which allowed me to head off home as and when (within reason) when I wanted. Despite making good friends at university, the comforts of home, family and the family dog, Kooper, pushing you off the bed seemed like a million miles away when you are bogged down with an assignment on the efficiency of a tractor and combine harvester and an exam on the Friday which consists of logarithms, cohesion and friction calculations.

When I first went to university, I was incredibly homesick within the first week or so, however, a quick phone call to mum, dad, grandma and the dog, put all my worries aside. Mum would say stop worrying, Dad said come back home and Grandma had no idea whatsoever…  But, I overcame this usually by the distraction of my friends and the road trip to the cooperative to get a helping of Ben and Jerry’s and a slab of chocolate (so much for the gym back then).

After I had done half the year, I had decided that pure maths was no longer for me. Let’s say I prefer the ‘Heath Robinson’ and tinkering around with the car sort of engineering other than finding the answer to the tensile stress and strain of steel! I returned home where I managed to get myself a job at the well-known Department store, John Lewis, I spent almost a year working on the shop floor, doing anything from Sales, Merchandising, ordering carpets, delivering fridges and installing washing machines. However, within 42 hours, university had once again become an option. I had decided that having being away from home for a year, I needed my independence back.

Considering my options, I chose to do a Business Marketing course at MMU which was entirely different to my previous course of choice. I thoroughly enjoy living in Manchester and studying at MMU where there is never a dull moment with usually plenty to do when not doing those 3000 word assignments. I do have other commitments outside of University, such as the Residential Advisor Role which allows me to interact with students from various backgrounds, organise events and create some good networks such as the local PCSO’s and sustainability team. I am also a Duty Manager at the Food supermarket, Waitrose which gives me an added focus point, keeping me busy and occupied. I try and balance this out by keeping my fitness up at the gym, doing some volunteering at a Victorian water works (keeping the inner engineer alive), seeing friends and living for weekend nights out, this (minus sleeping) probably equates to a 42 hour week.

It’s not all plain sailing… I did have a difficult start to my second year, within the first month my grandma was officially diagnosed with vascular dementia, therefore, this meant we had to clear her house out and move her into a Nursing Home (and help out when I could get back home to Nottinghamshire). Around 42 days later, my mum was diagnosed with stage 3/4 breast cancer, which made that feeling of needing to be home ever more present. As my mother lives on her own, and being an only child, the duty I felt I had to fulfil was greater than ever. The initial shock was difficult to deal with in the first 42 hours with the prospect of not knowing how she will react to the chemotherapy or what sort of time scale she has left. I admit that 22 year olds cry, even if it is in the middle of the Business School, but it’s good to let it out (so I’m told- no matter how embarrassing it is).

In many respects, being an only child does toughen you up. You can’t run away from the situation, you simply have to face your fears, deal with it, move on and hope for the best. I am in that fortunate position where I can always tell myself that home is never far away, I mean, what’s a 2.4 hour train journey home, compared to a flight around to the other side of the world which could take 42 hours.

My advice to anyone is to treat life as it comes, enjoy it and make the most of it with the time you are at university young and free with your friends, some will become friends for life. You could argue that I have become blunt and cynical with age, but missing home is not the be all and end all, no matter how close or far away you live from your home comforts. Look towards the time when you are going home to see relatives, the cat, dog, hamster, and snake, make the most of the time you are at home which is usually falls on a weekend for most of you which probably equates to 42 hours.

So there we have it; if you don’t take anything away from this, the following quote may answer some of your queries. “The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42” (Douglas Adams; The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy). Read the book and watch the film when you have a spare 42 minutes, hours or days.

Jack (Residential Advisor – All Saints Student Living)

Jack’s Top Tips for beating homesickness:

  1. Stay busy: Get a part time job, go and explore the city with friends and never turn down an opportunity to socialise.
  2. Talk about your problems, whether this is with friends, flatmates or your Residential Advisor.
  3. Look forward to going home and spending time with your family, but also why not get your mates to come to Manchester and visit you?
  4. When you come back from your holidays- make sure you have a busy schedule for when you get back- go out for food with your flatmates, watch a film with friends or catch up on that work you need to do!

The Residential Advisors run a drop-in session for students living at Birley, Cambridge & Cavendish, Oxford Court & Briarfields, Daisy Bank and Booth. The session runs from 6-7pm every day at the reception for your accommodation. You can go for advice about anything – no appointment needed…

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