There are many reasons why you might choose to move away from home to study. Making this decision can be very difficult.

Thinking about whether to live on campus or in independent share accommodation is another factor. Some of the things you can do to help you decide include:

  • Write a list of all the advantages and disadvantages for going away to study;

  • Talk through your reasons with family and friends; and

  • Take time out to prevent feeling rushed.

It’s normal to have mixed feelings about leaving home. It can be exciting to make new friends, have new experiences, be more independent, and become more confident within yourself. You may also be feeling scared, homesick or lonely. It’s not unusual to feel nervous about leaving your familiar surroundings.

Here are some ways to make the transition easier.

Give it time

Big changes often take time to adjust to. Moving away from home and starting at university is a big move. It’s important to allow yourself time to get used to the change. Try to take one day at a time. Life will start to get easier as you become more familiar with the routine of life away from home and start to make new friends.

Stay in contact with old friends

While you’re making new friends it might help to stay in touch with old friends. Chat with them about how you’re feeling about starting at university. They may be having similar concerns. Although you’re not able to see them face-to-face, you can keep in touch via email, instant messenger, social networks, phone or even postcards!

Keep in mind that friends at home may be a bit slack in getting back to you. Try not to take this personally. It may be because they’re doing similar things, in their comfort zone, and not aware of how important their contact with you is. It might help to let them know how much you enjoy hearing from them. You can also invite them to see you.

Have something to look forward to

Sometimes it’s helpful to plan ahead so you have something to look forward to. You may want to plan to catch up with friends during the holidays or plan to do something special if your parents are coming to visit you. Another idea would be to spend the weekend exploring your new city or town. Buying a guidebook of the area is a great way to get to know your surroundings.

Home isn’t just a structure. It’s a sense of belonging generated by the people around you. It’s about being comfortable where you are, in the here and now.

Zac Bush

UNSW Hall (Law/International Studies)


Get involved

A good way to make new friends is to become involved in activities that interest you. This way you’re meeting people whom you have things in common with. You may want to get involved in: sport, music, debating, community service etc. The university and colleges organise such activities as a great way to meet new people and have fun at the same time.

Try and participate in Orientation Week (O-Week) activities

O-Week activities are planned to give you an opportunity to meet new people. O-Week activities are facilitated by older students from the university (called yellow shirts), which gives you a chance to learn from their experiences of moving away from home, so ask them as many questions as possible!

Befriend classmates

Making friends with students in your courses not only widens your support network but also allows you to form study groups and discuss the ongoing assessment. You could suggest you meet up outside of class for study sessions and social activities.

Create your own space

Making your space your own can help you bring a bit of home to campus life or your unit. Posters, your favourite doona/quilt cover, books and photos may help to make your space more like home.

Express yourself

Being able to express how you’re feeling can help to release any tension you’re carrying around with you. There are a number of ways you can express yourself safely (eg. writing about how you feel, playing a sport, drawing, painting, singing, dancing etc).

Talk to someone

This may be a friend or family member. Sometimes talking to someone who’s not so close to the situation may be helpful, like a student counsellor or an RF/RA at your college. You can also call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (free call from landline) or Lifeline on 13 11 14 (cost of local call from landline). They have counsellors available 24 hours a day.

Extract from Reach Out. Article supplied by CAPS.