This paper examines the issues emanating from the transition into a new social and cultural environment distant from the home, the context of which is provided by the transition from home to university. The study analyses the transitional process over a period of 5 months, using data obtained from in-depth semi-structured interviews and participant observation of ten first-year undergraduates who moved to study at the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham. It explores the mediating variables that impact place attachment and place identity during the transition from home to university. Within this context consideration is given to how participants made sense of changes in their socio-spatial environment, the ensuing problems and challenges of doing so, and how these meanings affected self-perceptions and self-evaluations. The analysis demonstrates how participant's stories of the transition evince an abiding concern with the loss of place, manifest in terms of an erosion of a sense of belonging, attachment and continuity and an undermining of home's capacity to symbolise the self. The implications of such accounts for our understanding of place attachment and identity are then explored. The paper concludes by advocating a holistic approach to our conceptualisation of place, given that place meanings are constantly being evaluated and redefined in light of changing social and physical relationships with place and between people and place.
- First-year undergraduates
- People-place relations
- Place attachment and place identity
- Transition from home to university