Making the most of your time at home

Your visit home can be an opportunity to recuperate and feel more connected to loved ones. But taking some time to think about it and talk about it in advance can help ensure that both you and your family have as good a time as possible.

Given the demanding nature of the first term, especially during the pandemic, it would be easy to simply get to the end of term and then go home, without thinking about it in advance. But while you have been away, life has been continuing for both you and the people at home. This means both you and they may have been undergoing some changes.

Changes you’ve undergone

Given the nature of the first term, you will have had an experience that is unlike anything anyone will have experienced before. Depending on how you’ve experienced this, it may affect how you are feeling and in turn, that may impact on what you want to do when you return home. You may also have undergone other changes or have adopted new habits that are different to how you’ve been at home.

You may now feel more independent, you may be keeping to different hours, or you may have changed some of your views. These changes or reactions can come as a surprise to your family and friends - they have not lived through the same experiences, so may not fully understand them. This doesn’t mean they don’t care or aren’t willing to understand.

Being aware of these changes and experiences can help you to explain how you feel and what you feel you need. Then together you can discuss how you can work to make the break as good as possible for everyone.

Changes at home

While you are at university everyone at home has also been experiencing life during the pandemic. Some things at home may also have changed as a result of this or simply because your family and friends will have had to adapt to life without you being around. Because you have been having different experiences this can alter their relationships with you and each other.

This doesn’t mean these relationships have weakened or mean less, they are just adapting to the new circumstances. Being prepared for these changes can help you avoid the shock that some students feel, when they realise that home is not exactly how they remember it when they left.

Be realistic about your expectations of home

Given how challenging the first term has been, it is not surprising that some students may have been holding onto the memory of home as a stabilising influence. If used properly, your memories of home can be a very positive way of helping you manage the challenges of student life. Whether positive or negative they can provide you with examples of other times you’ve met challenges and been successful.

But if you cling too hard to memories of how home used to be, you may find changes upsetting and difficult to manage. Be realistic about your memories and try to recognise that changes in your family may be positive for your parents and siblings – although they may feel strange to you.

Check in with your family

It can help if you speak to your family about all of this before you go home. Remember that we are all having to be flexible with our plans at the moment, so try to work together to agree a general approach to the break but with an acceptance that plans may need to change.

If you all understand how you are all feeling and what you all hope to get from the break, you can then work together to make it as good as possible for everyone.