It’s not uncommon for excited toddlers to wind up crying and asking for Mommy during their first attempted slumber party at Grandma’s house. Tweens who go off to sleepaway camp aren’t immune to homesickness, and those pangs of longing for familiar surroundings and people are also known to strike college students—yes, even the ones who wanted nothing more than to get as far away from home as possible.
After the initial excitement wears off, orientation is over, and the semester is in full swing, you will probably get the blues every now and then. When those feelings of homesickness occur, even if it’s only now and then, it may be tempting to call it quits and book the first flight home.
If a new school and new town truly isn’t all you thought it would be, you can always transfer to a college closer to home, but chances are those feelings will subside over time and you’ll wind up having the best four years of your life. Here are eight ways to help beat homesickness at college:
While it’s a good idea to bring a few reminders of home to decorate your new place, you will not need your high school yearbooks, 15 framed photos to hang on your dorm room walls, and every stuffed animal your boyfriend or girlfriend ever gave you. Not only will your room look cluttered, you wil be bombarded with reminders of home. (Most people have a tendency to overpack, whether it is for a weeklong vacation or a semester at school. When in doubt, don’t bring it. You can always ask your parents to ship it to you later but you probably won’t even miss it.)
It’s easier than ever to stay in touch with friends and family thanks to email, texts and social media. Your group of BFFs may be separated by hundreds of miles, but you can still stay current in each others’ lives. Just be sure you make an effort to make new friends, too!
When you start to feel down and out, think about all of the good stuff that’s going on in your life. Sure, you might hate your work study position compared to your part-time job at home and your nosy roommate might make your little brother seem like an angel, but you can stay out as late as you want and you don’t have any classes on Fridays! Things don’t seem quite as bad now, do they?
Having too much time on your hands can cause your mind to wander. When you start worrying about what’s going on at home and counting down the days until winter break, grab a bite to eat or go to the gym. Keeping busy will help the time go faster. Getting out of your room will help make it easier to meet new people and make new friends.
Yes, going off to college helps young adults learn how to function independently, but the main reason for doing it is to earn a degree. Even if you decide that you’d be better off at another school that’s closer to Mom and Dad, you don’t want to ruin your chances of transferring credits. Keep your grades up!
Be sure to spend some time checking out your college campus. Find new places to eat and new places to study or simply hang out. Grab a friend and go off campus, too! There’s bound to be places to go other than bars—find a mall, movie theater, restaurant, or someplace fun to escape every now and then.
Texting is great, but call your parents a couple of times throughout the week. Hearing their voices can help you feel better and you can make plans for any upcoming visits. Let them know the places you want to show them and talk about the places you want to go to on your next trip home. Just don’t overdo it and call home six times a day!
One final tip? Ask your family to send you care packages! Email is great, but nothing beats opening envelopes containing handwritten notes or cards and boxes of goodies.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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