Moving to university is an incredibly stressful time, but fortunately for my sanity, I am an expert at avoiding problems. My plan was: get everything prepared well in advance, so I didn’t need to worry, and then ignore the fact I was leaving everything I knew behind for at least a month before I moved to Southampton. With the contents of my future kitchen packed around late July, and results day mercilessly sailing past without too much drama, I spent September cooped up in my soon-to-be empty childhood bedroom, watching repeats of crappy television. One such show I discovered that summer was the Channel 4 comedy documentary series, Gogglebox.
The day of the move went by relatively smoothly, befriending an awesome bunch of flatmates (who I still count myself lucky for finding today), and heading on my first ever Jesters trip – an experience you’ll never forget, no matter how many sambuca shots you drink. It was the next morning, when I awoke to a largely unpacked room, and a silent flat of sleeping hungover flatmates, and felt a sudden pang of homesickness. I was living on my own. I’d achieved the thing I’d been working towards all my life – but was it really what I wanted, or had I been railroaded into it?
Big questions that I think the majority of freshers have felt at one point or another. Take a deep breath, listen to your favourite band, absorb yourself in your favourite book – or watch your favourite show. Gogglebox was that for me. With a massive back catalog of episodes on 4’s On Demand service (at the time, 4OD, now All4), I could watch episode on episode as I unpacked and made my room home. What’s more, the show itself is a comfort blanket of familiarity, the antithesis of the massive change occurring in my life.
The families remain constant week by week, with even their places on the sofas in their respective lounges staying the same. You may think seeing such strong families like the Siddiquis and the Michaels might make you feel homesick, but actually, at times, it reminds you of some of the pitfalls of family life. Strong friendships such as Stephen and Chris and Jenny and Lee made me excited for my future with the group of new friends I’d just met; strong relationships like Leon and June and Steph and Dom made me hopeful that this could be the time in my life I meet my soulmate. Moreover, it’s just creates infectious, uncontrollable laughter, an antidote for any homesickness you may feel.
Coming to university is a daunting thing, and sometimes, avoiding your problems isn’t all bad. If you are hit by a wave of homesickness, indulge yourself in your guilty pleasure for a few hours, and have a good laugh. Then put on a smile, head out and make friends.
Gogglebox will return for its eighth series later this year. Previous series are available to view via All4.