No matter where you come from, and no matter what university you go to, the shift between these two living environments is bound to feel different. This is due to a number of things, such as the people that you are surrounded with, the space you are adapting in, and the circumstances that ensue from these factors. For example, maybe you spent your whole life sharing a room with a sibling, and now for the first time you are adapting to having a space of your own. This freedom can feel liberating and sets up the journey of becoming an independent adult from our family. However, university life is not 24/7 and 365 days a year, and there does come many a time where students head home for the holidays. That first month at home over the Winter break is when it hits students that its not actually normal to wake up at 3am and cook chicken nuggets while playing mini golf in the hallway. Storing alcohol bottles on the windowsill as a trophy display actually reflects an element of alcoholism rather than perseverance, and sitting in the living room eating dry cereal out of the box while writing an essay in twelve hours does not count for your three meals of the day. We develop these poor yet practical habits during university life, but coming home means that the people around us aren’t used to doing the same. It is important when returning to home life to remember to respect the rules and lifestyle of your family, but give yourself some credit because adapting is hard.
Adapt communication methods
One of the most difficult things that students report struggling with during their time at home during holidays is not being able to meet up with their friends whenever they feel like it. At uni, especially while living in halls, you are surrounded by students left and right. You might have your own room, but you’re never truly alone as there’s always someone who is up for a chat or late-night movie marathon. Going from seeing these people every day to not at all for a month is tough, but one way to adapt to this is by making time to see friends and family from back home that you have not been able to see while at university. We are also lucky that we have technology such as Facebook and Snapchat, so staying in touch isn’t as hard as we think.
Find a middle ground with differences
As a student, I find it difficult when going home to adapt to the mealtimes of my family. Everyone typically has breakfast around 8am, then lunch at 1 and we all try to eat together at 7 for dinner. I don’t know many students who have three meals a day, and when I go home I find it difficult to make this shift. This is due to the fact that some days I will sleep in and have a late breakfast and then have an earlier second meal as dinner and lunch combined. I have found that the best way to adapt to mealtimes when being at home is to have open communication with your family. Just explain how you are now used to eating at these sorts of times, and try to find a common ground that works for everyone. Some families never eat together and if this is the case then you won’t have this problem, but going home can also be looked at as a good opportunity to attempt to reinstate some routines and good habits back into your life such as eating at similar times each day and expanding your range of foods in your diet beyond noodles and potato waffles.
Maintain the work/life balance
It’s easy to slip out of the habit of doing uni work and assignments when you head home for the holidays. You’re no longer surrounded by fellow stressed students or spending hours staring at books in a library. With studying out of sight, it can be easy to dismiss it from your mind. The problem is that when you then attempt to return to University life post relaxation at home, it is ten times harder to get back in the zone. A useful way to maintain a balance of study and relaxation at home is to listen back over lectures and use Jamworks to take your notes for you. It wont feel like you’re doijng a heavy load of work, but you will have the results to show for it and will make returning to lectures a lot more refreshing!
Have your essentials at hand
As I prepare to head home next week for a few weeks with my family, the main thing I do to make my adaptation to home life go as smoothly as possible is that I make sure to pack everything that I will need at home. Nothing makes me feel more uncomfortable and out of sorts than not having my things with me such as my favourite comfort clothes, makeup, books, laptop etc. Having my own things around me makes me feel comfortable and relaxed which therefore helps me to approach the rest of the stay in a positive mindset and prevent unnecessary arguments about irrelevant indifferences.
I hope that these tips have been helpful, and I wish you luck if you are heading home for the Easter holidays!