Home Mental Health & Well-Being How Students Can Tackle Loneliness in the Cities Struggling Most

How Students Can Tackle Loneliness in the Cities Struggling Most

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According to a report by the UK Government, around three million people in the UK often feel lonely. This can be for a multitude of reasons, and one of those can be due to a change in surroundings – something that thousands of students around the UK go through every year.

For some students, they may find they settle straight in, feel supported by their peers, and enjoy their newfound environment. However, for some, it can take a little longer to settle in. iQ Student Accommodation has been analysing search volume data around homesickness across 20 major student cities in the UK to find out where people may be struggling to settle into their new environments more than others. 

There are over 39,000 searches for homesickness remedies in the UK alone each year  

iQ Student Accommodation’s data analysis has looked at the top 20 UK student cities with the highest number of higher-education students to get a gauge on where students in the UK may benefit from some tips on how they can settle in better next term and what they can do to make 2024 their best year yet.  

To conduct this study, the team at iQ analysed the number of people per city population, searching for key terms around homesickness and homesickness remedies. Those with the highest number of searches per capita were ranked at the top. While the search numbers are representative of the whole city, they give us an indication of where students across the UK may be feeling more homesick than others.

Exeter has the highest number of searches per capita for homesickness advice in the UK  

30% of Exeter’s population is reported to be students, and whilst iQ’s data analysis into homesickness searches in the UK is not based on students alone, we can estimate that around 145 of the searches around homesickness in Exeter will be coming from the student population (total number of searches per capita stands at approximately 480). Most students living away from home will be doing so for the first time, leaving them vulnerable to feelings of homesickness. In major student cities like Exeter, students should make the most of extracurricular activities around them to foster the sense of belonging that they miss. The University of Exeter offers a wide variety of societies, from the Taylor Swift Society to the chocolate-making society, so there really is something for everyone. Joining a group of people can help to settle any nerves, and making new friends in a city is a good way of distracting yourself from that homesick feeling.

Coventry ranks second – around 840 searches per year on key terms around homesickness 

Coventry sees over 70 searches each month for homesickness, according to iQ’s study. If you find yourself feeling lonely in Coventry, take proactive steps to connect with the vibrant community around you. Explore local social clubs or attend community events to meet like-minded individuals. Coventry boasts a rich cultural scene, so it can be fun to immerse yourself in its theatres, museums, and festivals. Volunteering is another excellent way to forge connections while contributing to the community. Remember, loneliness is temporary, and with two major UK universities in Coventry, there is bound to be a group of like-minded students who are looking to join societies to form friendships and connections. iQ Weaver Place in Coventry offers students the chance to get involved in exclusive events like pop-up food trucks or book fairs and offers an inclusive community environment where students can feel more settled and at home in their own space. 

Edinburgh comes in third place for the highest search volume per capita for homesickness  

iQ’s research found that nearly 1,000 people a year search for homesickness remedies in Scotland’s capital. As a student, moving to a capital city may feel overwhelming at first, but once you find your feet, Edinburgh has something for everyone. From the nearly 300 clubs and societies available at Edinburgh University, you are sure to find a group of people who make you feel at home. With three iQ Student Accommodations properties in Edinburgh there is plenty of opportunity to make friends in your accommodation, whether through a shared passion in one of iQ’s Clubs like cooking or gaming, or even finding a gym buddy.  

Birmingham is the least homesick student-centric city

On the contrary, among the most homesick cities in the UK, iQ’s data analysis also tells us that the student-centric city with the lowest search numbers around homesickness is Birmingham, home to three iQ properties. Birmingham only sees 120 searches per month for terms around homesickness. Given that the population of Birmingham is over 2.5 million, this is a very small percentage – the lowest of all the cities in the study.

However, this isn’t to say students across the country in any city are unsusceptible to homesickness from time to time.

5 Tips to help students overcome homesickness 

Homesickness is a common challenge for students, especially those who are away from home for the first time. Here are five tips from the team at iQ Student Accommodation to help overcome homesickness:

  1. Establish a routine. Creating a daily routine can provide a sense of structure and familiarity. This routine might include regular study hours, exercise, and social activities. Having a predictable schedule can help you feel more grounded and less overwhelmed by the new environment. 
  2. Stay connected. Keep in touch with family and friends back home. Video calls, messages, and social media can bridge the distance and make you feel more connected. Plan regular check-ins with loved ones to share your experiences and hear about theirs. However, try to balance this with forming new connections in your current location.
  3. Explore your new surroundings. Get to know your new environment by exploring the campus and the local community. Familiarise yourself with nearby shops, parks, and recreational areas. Becoming more comfortable in your surroundings can help reduce feelings of isolation and make your new location feel more like home.
  4. Join clubs and activities. Participate in clubs, sports, or other extracurricular activities on campus. This is a great way to meet new people who share similar interests. Building a social support network can provide a sense of belonging and help distract you from feelings of homesickness. iQ Student Accommodation offers a range of clubs to residents, and they have been proven to be a great way to make friends.
  5. Practise self-care. Take care of your physical and mental well-being. Ensure you are getting enough sleep, eating well, and incorporating regular exercise into your routine. Practising mindfulness or meditation can also be helpful in managing stress and homesickness. Prioritise self-care to maintain a healthy balance in your life.

Sarah Cowing, Head of Central Operations at iQ Student Accommodation, says: “Remember that homesickness is a normal part of adjusting to a new environment, and it tends to improve with time. If your feelings persist or become overwhelming, consider reaching out to your university’s mental health services, both on campus and online.

“For any students in iQ Student Accommodation across the UK, you can also reach out to your city Wellbeing Ambassador, who can provide support through our partners at Shout and Student Minds. iQ also partners with the mindfulness app Headspace to give students a 12-month free premium membership. 

“iQ residents have access to a range of facilities on site, from cinema rooms to cooking clubs, and even exclusive events like Speed Friending that help residents get to know each other, make friends, and hopefully head off any feelings of homesickness.”

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