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‘Boomerang Effect’ – the harsh reality of moving back home

Sun is out, revision is a thing of the past, and a long summer awaits…

I’ve finally hit one of the major milestones of my life – I’ve finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Southampton! It’s no exaggeration when older, wiser people tell you “three years will fly by” – they really do.

So, what now?

After a weekend/week of non-stop socialising, everything starts to wind down and you watch your bank account rapidly deplete, realising that it may be time to finally move back home.

My grandad posing in our beautiful garden.

It’s a pretty well known fact that the majority of students move back home after their studies. In fact, I read online that this is part of what’s known as the “boomerang effect”, whereby students move away from home for university, only to return 3+ years later to darken their parents’ doorsteps once again.

Although I am starting my Masters degree at the University of Cambridge in October, I became increasingly nervous in the run-up to final exams about leaving uni and living at home once again, albeit just for the Summer. In this sense, I think I’m quite lucky that I have a ‘trial period’, so to speak, before I move back home permanently in a year’s time.

The run-up

For a while, I felt really guilty about feeling nervous about going home (feelings about feelings – so meta), because I am very close with my family and really value the time I spend with them. Yet, as I spoke to my friends about it, I realised that everyone is in the same mental rut of post-University blues/nerves about the next step – no matter what great step they have planned next.

This is also an important point for those of you reading this who are moving to university for the first time – don’t feel guilty about leaving home. It is perfectly okay to be excited about going to uni! However, even though you’re caught up in the UCAS-driven quest for a university that fulfils all of your criteria, I strongly recommend that you include “proximity to home” as a vital tick-box. Southampton being two hours from home in London really made the difference to my student experience, as it meant I could pop home for a bit if I felt homesick. This had me bouncing back to uni and maximising my time in Southampton.

How it’s been so far

The good stuff

Overall, the past few days at home have been great! The list of highlights includes:

  1. Having an actual TV rather than my laptop, to binge watch Mad Men on.
  2. Saving money on food and not even needing to cook – I’ve been indulging in my grandma’s readily available and delicious Indian food.
  3. Having an uninterrupted night’s sleep, i.e. not being woken in the early hours of the morning by noisy drunk people on the street, or my own housemates returning from a night out.

Quality time with mum (left) and grandma (right) – these two housemates aren’t nearly as nocturnal.

The not-so-good stuff

So I have to be honest here and say that, despite living in a flat of 8 in first year, followed by a house of five in second and third, it still wasn’t enough preparation for moving back into a household of five other people, including three generations of extrovert Aroras.

Firstly, my family are very loud. You think your flatmates are noisy but believe you me: Hindi can be a very aggressive language. To anyone outside of our home, it probably seems like we’re always angry and shouting at one another, although I can promise that this isn’t the case.

Secondly, my family have no concept of personal space and just love to walk into whomever’s room whenever they fancy. Adjusting to a slower everyday routine was also difficult, as I’m used to a fast-paced day squeezing in all the club and society events that Southampton has to offer.

This lack of privacy and independence started to frustrate me from the first day. On a more positive note, I think dealt with it well by simply sitting down with my parents and grandparents, and calmly explaining to them how I had grown used to living in a certain way and by my own rules. From there, we negotiated elements of every day life such as chores and mealtimes. I would really recommend doing this if you find yourself struggling to readjust, so that your loved ones are fully aware that you aren’t the same person as when you left for uni – as obvious as that sounds! Communication is key, folks.

I am fully aware that your family household may be extremely different to mine, so this definitely isn’t a comprehensive list with which to prepare yourself for the move back home. You’re likely to have your own set of pros and cons, but I hope this post has given you a bit of insight into problems you may face during a critical transition period in your life.

Best of luck!


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