up2date. Das Onlinemagazin der Universtiät Bremen

Giving Your New City a Chance

Each year, around 1,200 students go to the Psychological Counseling Office at the Bremen Student Services Organization. What help do Swantje Wrobel and her team offer when it’s not going so smoothly? The topic today: homesickness.

Does a new city bring new happiness? Not necessarily. Many students suffer from homesickness in their first semester. But don’t panic! If you follow a couple of tips there will be no need for you to worry.

Merle is actually quite a sociable person. She had many friends at school. Even during the critical phase of her A-levels, she went out nearly every evening. However, since she’s been in Bremen, she just cannot seem to find the motivation for anything. When the day at university is finally over, she is just happy to get on the bus to her flat. She then usually stays there and chats with friends from home.

Swantje Wrobel knows many “Merles”. These students come to her at the Psychological Counseling Office (PBS) a few weeks after the semester has begun because they’ve noticed that something with their new life in Bremen is not quite right. “Most of them have not yet realized that they are homesick,” explains the Student Services Organization head. In 1974, shortly after the establishment of the University of Bremen, the Student Services Organization founded this point of contact for Bremen and Bremerhaven students seeking advice. Each year, around 1,200 women and men make use of this service. The problems that lead them there are diverse. A lot of them are related to studying. However, the counseling sessions also cover personal and social aspects.

Home Gives us Security

Shortly after the winter semester has begun, Wrobel often hears the same statement: I can’t seem to settle here, I don’t feel happy here. “It is often those students that still have a strong connection to their hometown. They board a train to be with their old friends every weekend. That is their home and everything there is familiar. That gives them security,” explains the psychologist. In Bremen, on the other hand, everything is new: the university, the town, the other students. That can be scary. “Many are without direction and simply can’t find their bearings,” says Wrobel.

Out of the One-Person Apartment

First of all, the affected students hear good news during counseling: Homesickness often disappears at some point during the first semester. Moreover, Wrobel and her colleagues offer specific tips on how you can successfully settle in Bremen. One recommendation is that you find like-minded people. After all, many things seem easier when done together. Wrobel also points out the many groups at the university that you can join. The second recommendation is that you move out of your one-person apartment and move into shared housing. This automatically leads to you sharing your day-to-day life with others and wards away loneliness. Thirdly, allow the train home to sometimes leave the station without you on board. That is the only way that you can truly give your new city a chance.

The Psychological Counseling Office is located in the University of Bremen Central Campus Building underneath the cafeteria (Mensa). The secretariat is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays and from 2p.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays. Appointments can also be made on the phone (22 01 – 1 13 10) or via email pbs@stw-bremen.de. There is also an online counseling service. The Psychological Counseling Office services are offered free of charge to students at the university and higher education institutions in Bremen and Bremerhaven.

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