If you’re anything like I was, the prospect of moving out for the first time is, to say the least, daunting. Whether it’s to move into student accommodation or into a house of your own, there are lots of things to think about, and family relationships is just one of them. Whether you’re close to your family or not,hopefully my experience will help make everything seem slightly less ARGH!
All the way through childhood, I was very close to my younger sister; we were best friends. She’d make me laugh by being daft and I can only remember a handful of times when we properly fell out. I’ve always wanted to be there for her, and so the thought of moving away was upsetting; I wasn’t sure how often I would see her, or even talk to her. Would we ever dance around the kitchen like idiots to old-school songs again? Would we ever watch Friends for the 101st time together? Who would I ask for fashion tips? Luckily, she was supportive, telling me, just go Amy, stop being so overdramatic! And so, I did.
At first, it was such a bizarre feeling; the first night in my University room was eerily quiet and I wanted to call home immediately. But I stopped myself. In fact, I didn’t call home for a good few days. And I think that this was the first thing that helped me come to terms with my new living situation. Having little contact with my family during the first few days helped me to settle in, gain independence, and focus on making new friends. I think that, although it may sound odd, this lack of communication helped to maintain a good relationship with my family as I avoided stressing them out with worried calls!
Of course, three or four days later, so much had happened that when I did call, I had many things to update them on. My parents were happy that I’d settled in quickly, which I think put their minds at ease, and my anecdotes of student life only made my sister more excited to finish sixth form and move to University herself.
Nowadays, I tend to phone home once a week and update them all on my goings-on. (Now, much less partying and much more working!) You may find that you like to call home more often than this, which is totally fine. I know some who like to speak to their families every other day, or even every day. Everyone’s different, and you’ll soon find out what works best for you.
One piece of advice I would give to you is, if you have more than one sibling and/or parents who are ‘with-the-technology-these-days’, make a ‘group chat’ with them on WhatsApp, Messenger, or even just by text. I have a Facebook Messenger chat with my Mum and sister (my Dad still doesn’t get what ‘Facebook’ is!) This way, I find that communication is quicker and easier (plus, you don’t have to repeat yourself several times over!) It’s especially useful when you want to give them a quick update, like, I finally fixed that hole in my sock!, or, I got a great offer on washing-up liquid at Tescos! (Trust me, these things become very exciting once you move out.)
As well as this, I have recently started to send my grandparents hand-written letters (I know, how 1950s of me!) Bless them, they find it hard enough to work a telephone, let alone WiFi, so talking with them can be more difficult. Therefore, maybe twice a month, I send off a letter to ‘keep them in the loop’ as they say. I enjoy this, too. I feel like the act of letter-writing is dying out, which is a shame as it really is nice to receive something that someone has put time into.
I believe that making time for your family is also important. For me, visiting home about once a month fits quite well. I would recommend popping home every now and then, if possible, even for just a couple of nights. Planning your visit home with family is useful to do before your stay, too. This way, you’re sure to spend time with them; for example, decide on a family walk or make dinner for them (maybe introduce them to a student recipe – pasta with baked beans, anyone?)
You may find, like I have, that visits home may become less frequent over time. For me, this isn’t because I don’t want to, but because I sometimes find it difficult to slip back into old ways. I have now become more independent and I’m used to having my own space. Of course, I still enjoy being with my family and being reunited with Bonnie, our spaniel, but it’s harder, when you’ve got used to looking after yourself, to have someone else doing that for you again. This is no one’s fault, and – believe me – I do love the break from cooking! But it’s like anything, you’ll find your routine when living away from home and you may find that this routine is tough to break!
I 100% don’t regret moving out; it’s a great opportunity and you learn so much. Having said this, I still miss ‘home-home’ and my life there. Keeping up good communication with my family could have been challenging, especially when I got particularly busy with deadlines and assignments. But with the help of social media, it has made it a lot easier to talk to them, and I still love the (hour long!) phone call home every week. If you’re um-ing and ah-ing about the decision to leave the nest and spread your wings, just remember that there will always be a way to contact your loved ones, all you may need is a bit of time and space to settle in first.