There are many benefits to going to a university close to your home town, but like everything there are negatives too. This is one of the factors you should consider when choosing a university, if you struggle with homesickness, maybe don’t go too far away, or if you absolutely find the perfect university but it is very far away, weigh up the pros and cons. I don’t think any student should feel like they have to go to a university far away to get the “university experience”. University is what you make of it and it is a big decision no matter where you decide to go.
Where to live?
I personally chose to go to a university 12 miles away from my hometown, I also chose to live away all three years of study. This was a personal choice but one that I did struggle with particularly when it came to where I should live for my second and third years. This is one of the big questions for students, where to live? And when your parents live just down the road, it becomes an even heavier question.
When considering where to live, it’s important that you consider a few factors. Money for rent is the first one. Normally houses are cheaper than first year on campus accommodation. So, for your second year, consider houses that you can afford. Deposits, first months of rent can all add up and you don’t want to be drowning in unnecessary debt. So, considering living at home can help you save money particularly if the student loan you receive isn’t particularly big. But this also has to be weighed up against the FOMO. Staying at home is very likely to limit your social life, bonding through housemates’ messes and late-night takeaway orders can be missed out on if you are not living with other students. This isn’t a guarantee, but university can be the most exciting time of your life, but this is very hard to do on your own. Ensuring that you are comfortable, whether that is at home or in student accommodation is down to personal preference.
Looking after yourself
Student houses are known for being, well a bit of mess. This can be difficult to cope with. I was used to a fully stocked fridge and a nice comfy sofa I could flop down in every night, so when I moved to university accommodation and I became responsible for everything, my own shopping, my own happiness it was difficult to get used to. But all this has made me a different person, and I like the person it is, I feel more independent. This could not have happened without me moving away from home. Shopping for yourself can feel daunting, particularly if you’ve only ever gone shopping with your parents with the use of the family car. I missed the family car so much my first year, lugging juice and toilet paper from the shops was difficult but it just meant my shopping had to be done differently. Cleaning up as well was all a learning curve, most students know to wipe the work surface down once they’ve made food but knowing which products to use on which part of the bathroom can be highly confusing at first.
One of the bonuses on living so close to home is undoubtedly the ease and the cost it takes me to visit my parents. If I ever decide to go back to my hometown it’s very easy to do and requires very little planning. Every student will suffer from homesickness, and it is personal over how much it will affect you. What I think is very important to emphasise is there is no right way to feel. Going to university is a big experience and if you feel horribly homesick and want to go back the next weekend then you can do that, likewise, if you feel completely fine for the first few weeks but then you start to miss your dog, it is fine to go home then too. Often students feel they should behave a certain way and tough it out not seeing any family until Christmas. This is bad for your mental health, you need to ensure you get yourself settled but equally don’t deny yourself a chance to feel comfortable again.
Staying close to home is also useful because it means you can keep your job, I was very nervous first year moving away even though it wasn’t far. However, having the stable aspect of keeping my job did really help me maintain a bit of normality. The regular income helped too. I enjoyed my job too and didn’t want to leave just because one chapter of my life had changed.
The important part of university I am emphasising here is that university is what you make of it. There is no right or wrong way to go about it, many people will have the “university experience” in their head before they go. But as long as you’re happy, and comfortable at the end of your three years, your university experience has been a success no matter how far away you’ve gone.