What is it?
Some people enjoy being on their own for longer periods of time. Others prefer to gather as many people around them as possible. How strongly one feels the need to connect with others can vary. However, if you experience too little human contact and/ or a lack of ‘connection’ with others around you for a longer period of time, this may lead to a (severe) feeling of loneliness.
A distinction can be made between ‘emotional’ and ‘physical’ loneliness (i.e. social isolation). In the event of experiencing ‘emotional’ loneliness, a person fails to connect with others on an emotional level. In that case, you feel that others do not (will not) relate to you. Physical loneliness (or social isolation) can be experienced when someone has no or very few social contacts. (for example, after a move between cities or even countries). Of course, both types of loneliness can be experienced simultaneously.
What can you do yourself to tackle the feeling of loneliness?
When you notice that you are feeling lonely, the first question to ask yourself is: Is this feeling the result of a lack of people around me, or Do I find it hard to really ‘connect’ with the people around me? Or maybe both?
In the first case, it may help socialise more actively with others. Finding a shared interest could be a good starting point to connecting with others, think of sports clubs and study associations. Fontys is very active in setting up initiatives to create opportunities for students to get in touch with other students.
If you feel uncomfortable sharing personal experiences with the people around you or you feel that your connections are only superficial, it may be helpful to reflect on where that comes from. There can be a number of reasons, e.g. cultural differences (the Dutch are known for their straightforwardness, which may lead students from a different kind of social structure to be unclear as to how to respond); introverted personality, which may make it harder to take the initiative to connect; homesickness which may cause one to focus on all you miss rather than see the upside of what you find here; etc. In short, actively looking for ways to connect with others will help diminish the feeling of loneliness.
Useful links - Loneliness
Contact team Student Guidance
If loneliness is seriously affecting your mental well-being (for example, it is making you feel ‘depressed’), please do not hesitate to book an appointment with a Fontys student psychologist.
*A student psychologist is independent of your programme and has a duty of confidentiality.
Or, if you feel loneliness is an impediment to your study progress, please book an appointment with a student counsellor.