Dealing with Homesickness during Covid: A Guide

Dealing with Homesickness during Covid: A Guide

Heading off to university for the first time is certainly an exciting, yet daunting experience. That last wave you make to your loved ones before saying goodbye to your home will forever be a heart-wrenching but universal experience. It’s in this shared experience, however, that we are able to form lasting friendships with people at university.

There’s a sense of bittersweet comfort when first arriving on campus since other people are in the same boat, but it also definitely paves the way for people to actively seek friendships in their new environment. 

When I first arrived at Jacobs in November of 2020, I was absolutely clueless. During this time, it was not only the peak of COVID-19, but also Germany’s draconian social contact restrictions. Before leaving for Germany, I had only seen my family for four weeks in over a year before I had to book a last-minute flight to Bremen. Needless to say, I was homesick as soon as I got here.

My first instinct, being half Malaysian, was to venture into Bremen Hauptbahnhof to buy a rice cooker so that I could cook some Malaysian food. Since then, my rice cooker has witnessed many friendships develop over long conversations and many home-cooked meals. I’d like to think that my rice cooker has played a pivotal part in helping me form meaningful friendships: after all, who isn’t able to bond over a good meal? 

It is definitely hard to make friends at university, especially during a global pandemic. I know a lot of people found that after spending so much time in isolation, jumping into an environment that demands social interaction can feel very intimidating. My biggest piece of advice is to not stress about it or rush the process. Making friends isn’t easy and you might not connect with everyone you meet, but in the end, it’s so rewarding when you finally meet people who you can really enjoy spending time with.

With regards to dealing with homesickness, I think the perfect balance is keeping yourself occupied, but also staying in touch with friends and family back home. Making friends on campus with people who are from your same country is also very exciting – many people on campus like to celebrate their country’s traditions and holidays with friends by cooking food from their home country, and I find that to be such a comforting experience.

In my opinion, once you’ve left for university, even if you eventually return to your home country, you’ve already left home. “Home” to us undergraduates is a place that we’ve been familiar and comfortable with for a long time, but if and when you do return home, things will have changed.

Instead, I think home is anywhere you make it. Naturally, we’re all going to be exploring different parts of the world when we eventually graduate, so it’s important to make everywhere you go feel like home. Cooking your favourite traditional foods, talking to your friends and family back home, sprucing up your living space, making new friends, travelling, involving yourself in social activities (if that’s your cup of tea) – these are just a few ideas that might help with homesickness.

Being interested in the culture, language, and history of the country you’re in is also another idea that many people easily overlook. German is a very difficult language to learn, but once it clicks (and it will), understanding what someone else is saying in German is so rewarding.

In the end, I feel that the idea of home is so unique and personal to each and every one of us. The transition from your home to university marks the beginning of your adulthood, and part of that is being able to adapt to new environments. Although a difficult process, learning to be independent is made so much easier when you understand that everyone is dealing with similar feelings. The friends you make at university might not eventually end up in the same place as you after graduation, but the memories you’ve made with them will certainly stick with you forever.



Dealing with Homesickness during Covid: A Guide