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Living away from home

Living away from home infographic


Living away from home for the first time can be difficult for many university students. If you find that you are struggling, read on to find out more about home-sickness, and what you can do that may help you to feel better.


When you’re living away from home, it’s very common to miss the people at home, and the familiar places and rhythm of life (also known as home-sickness). There are also academic pressures to deal with, new schedules and high expectations. You may also be having to adjust to the overwhelming culture of big city life and even a change in language.

How some students feel:
  • “I miss my mom, and talking to her about my day. I feel like I should be old enough to cope, but sometimes I just wish that I was back home.”
  • “When I’m at lectures, the lecturer makes a joke and the whole class laughs - but I don’t understand what they’re laughing about. I pretend to laugh along, too.”
  • “This place is so big! I never know where to go or what I should be doing!”

Given everything that you have to cope with when living away from home, it is normal to have these feelings at first, and they are very common. You may still feel them from time-to-time, but if they start to interfere with your day-to-day life too much, there are actions you can take that may help you to feel more settled.

Tips to help you get settled

Getting actively involved in your new environment and community is an important part of adjusting to living away from home. The following ideas may help you to feel more comfortable when living away from home:

Find your way
Get social
  • Join groups and societies 
    Sign up for a sport
  • Attend activities
  • Talk to someone you trust about how you feel
  • Help out within the Wits community. Volunteering is a good way to feel useful and help to keep your situation in perspective.
Find your balance

Strike a balance in how much contact you have with people at home.
Balance out the stresses of living away from home by remembering to take care of yourself. Do things that you enjoy, as well as eating well and getting exercise.

Get support

Remember that it takes time to settle in to somewhere new. Allow yourself the time and space to slowly adjust, and seek help if you find that it isn’t coming right.

Wits Student Crisis Line 0800 111 331 (24/7/365)