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Homesickness: Adjusting to College Life

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Homesickness is a normal reaction to leaving home and those you love. You may feel sad, lonely, anxious, alienated, confused, and helpless. It doesn’t mean you are weak, only that you have experienced love and security in your life. There is no magic cure for homesickness, but there are effective ways to deal with your feelings and become connected to your new environment.

  • Acknowledge that the feeling you are feeling may be related to being homesick. Understand that homesickness is usually a temporary feeling.
  • Talk to someone about how you are feeling – your roommate, your RA, a counselor, or a friend from home. Getting your feelings off your chest can give you a new perspective and a sense of relief.
  • Call home and e-mail more often than normal for awhile. Let your family know that you miss them.
  • Don’t bury your feelings. Don’t drink more, party more, or make other bad decisions just to make the feelings go away. It’s only a temporary fix that creates even more problems.
  • Get out of your room! Spend time with the new people you’ve met. They may be homesick too.
  • Bring a few items from home to comfort you – a stuffed animal, photos, or a favorite blanket. Do not make your room a shrine to what used to be.
  • Realize that new situations take time to get used to. It may take a while to get through this struggle. There will come a time when your new surroundings will feel as comfortable and safe as home.
  • Get Involved! Join a club or organization. Go to campus cultural or sporting events. Find a cause. It is a common belief that this is the most effective way to get over homesickness.
  • Remember that you are not alone. There are several hundred other new students that can relate to how you are feeling.
  • Appreciate yourself and the growth you are experiencing. Give yourself time. You will settle in and things will get more comfortable. Part of maturing is learning to be flexible in different situations. This is all part of preparing you for your future.
  • Hang around campus on the weekends. Most of the major socializing in college occurs on the weekends. Going home to visit means you miss out on hanging around people you meet during the week.
  • Invite Someone from Home to Visit. This not only gets you some time with someone you miss from home but can help you get excited about sharing your new life with them. Show them a good time!
  • Focus on what you’re gaining. Don’t think about everything you’re missing. Think about all the new experiences you can share with friends and family when you go back home.
  • Find spiritual support. Students who had a spiritual life at home may find it helpful to join a group that shares their beliefs. They may enjoy the familiarity of the practices as well as the social aspect.
  • Practice self-care. Eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise. Be kind to yourself. Buried problems often emerge later as headaches, fatigue, or illness.
  • Examine your expectations. We’d all like to be popular and well-adjusted. We’re not. Setting a goal of perfection is the easiest way to create trouble for yourself.

You may wonder if you are experiencing homesickness or depression. Students who are depressed do not experience relief from their symptoms if they go home for a visit or engage in a favorite activity. Students who are homesick may find that when they leave school and spend time at home, their depressive symptoms disappear. If your feelings of homesickness are persistent or become so intrusive that they impair your daily activities or class obligations, you may benefit from talking to a counselor with special training in helping students adjust to the college environment. Contact your school’s counseling center for help.


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