By Nikos Papanikolaou
Are there times when you’re feeling blue? Times when you think about your family back home, and you want to cry? It’s nothing serious and nothing to be ashamed of. You’re just homesick. And let me tell you this: You’re not the only one.
I’ve been in London for four years. There have been good days, and there have been bad days. There are times that I miss my home more than anything else. The smell of the food when my mum is cooking, the sun warming up my skin, the nights I’m watching football on the telly with my dad.
I know how hard it is to be away from home and the ones you love. And it is something we all feel. Especially during the lockdown, people were telling me how much they miss their families. There were times when I was closing my eyes to sleep, and I was thinking of my home.
Now you may think: “OK, you feel like we do, how can I stop feeling homesick?” I’ll be honest with you: homesickness will never leave you. But some things will make it better.
First of all, if you’re reading this article, you have been accepted to London Met, so congratulations on that. Let’s start by saying that you’re amazing that you such a massive step, leaving home and coming to London to study. I still remember my first day. I felt lost. I thought that maybe the city was too big for me, and that perhaps it would be better to stay home.
But this university has its way of making you feel like you’re a part of a family. A large family with people from all around the world. People who share the same fears and feelings with you. People who understand how you feel and try to help you.
Through university, I met some wonderful people: tutors and fellow students. I am lucky enough to still have good friends I met my very first day – hi Agatha, Cheryne, Ryan and Louis – people with whom I have shared many things. People who have been there for me when I needed to talk to someone.
So, my first piece of advice is to give a chance to people and let them know you. Try to meet and make new friends. This will make everything easier. Also, you’re lucky enough to study in 2020 and not in 1960. That means that you have the internet – i.e. Facebook, Viber, WhatsApp etc. – and that makes your communication with your family as easy as it gets. Imagine in the ‘60s, when people were studying away from their homes; they only had telephones and mail. Not email but snail mail: a piece of paper inside an envelope. Now, seeing your loved ones face-to-face can take as long as the time to press a button.
All the things I said may be useful to you, or they may not. I know one thing for sure: London Met will hug you and – like it or not – will make you a part of its huge family. When I leave university, if someone asks me which things I remember the most, I will tell about that day that our lecturer Wendy took us all out for breakfast. Or the times when tutor Victoria brought us brownies and the day when we were all giving courage to each other about this new virus. Or, undoubtedly about the many times I was discussing our favourite bands with lecturer Simon.
But most importantly, I’ll think about the feeling I got every time I was entering the university to attend classes: This is home.