If college is your first official time really, truly, AWAY from home, you will most likely feel homesick to some sort of degree. People experience homesickness in different ways, some may just feel sad for a couple days while others may feel upset for weeks or longer. A lot of you may be thinking to yourself, ‘please, I won’t get homesick, I haven’t before!’ but 69% of college freshman reported feeling homesick. And yes, you may be part of the 31% that doesn’t, but the odds are not in your favor. So I want to share signs of homesickness and ways to get over it so moving to college won’t be so upsetting the first couple weeks.
I was one of the people who thought I had gotten over getting homesick when I was little, but the summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school I started a TRIO program where I stayed on a college campus for 3 weeks during the summer and spent 1 week in a different state entirely each summer until I graduated. I thought I would be fine, especially because my best friend was also starting the program with me, so if anything, at least I would have her to hang out with. That didn’t end up working out, we were put on different floors in the dorms and for the first good week and a half, you did everything with your floor-mates because they wanted you to meet new people, so we never saw each other except for lunch.
I hated it.
I love it now, I recommend the program to everyone I can, and it helped me get one of my biggest scholarships for college, but that first week was horrible for me. My roommate and I didn’t get along and I never saw my best friend and I missed my family like crazy. But I will talk about that more later. It’s not too hard to recognize if you’re feeling homesick, but here are some signs just in case:
•Feeling sad, lonely, helpless or depressed
•Sense of insecurity
•Frequent mood swings
•Wanting to leave
•Crying as you think of home
•Loss of appetite
•Lack of concentration
•Loss of confidence
•Not being able to enjoy fully
•Loss of motivation
•Social withdrawal/ unwilling to engage in social activities
•Headaches/ stomach aches
Don’t think because you only feel a couple of these items that you aren’t homesick. Foe example, my experience with homesickness only included the symptoms: feeling sad/lonely, sense of insecurity, wanting to leave, crying when thinking of home, and Social withdrawal/isolation. Nights were always the worst for me, people would be hanging out in other people’s rooms but I hadn’t really made friends yet (social isolation) so I would do stuff alone in my dorm. I felt like crying almost every night and I even called my mom at some point saying I wanted to come home but decided against it and told myself I needed to stick it out and not quit just a week in. The homesickness made everything feel much worse than it actually was.
Getting over homesickness can be easy. I started to get over it when one night, I was once again alone in my dorm when I started to hear people outside talking and laughing. I was on the 3rd floor so I opened my window and peaked out because I’m a nosy person and wanted to see what was going on. Most of the students in my program were outside just hanging out. Some were playing volleyball or basketball, others were dancing, but most people were just hanging out. Which was fine, I wasn't feeling up to socializing so I could ignore it. But then I saw my best friend down there and I started to get mad because why didn’t she invite me? We rarely had time to hang out with each other as it was. So I told myself to suck it up and go out there. My friend pushed me to talk to new people instead of only her and it was all uphill from there. After the first week I made friends with people on my floor (one of which became my roommate next year) and the homesickness went away almost immediately. I figured out that making friends, having people to hang out with instead of being alone, was the best way for me to get over being homesick. But it’s different for everyone. Here are some other ways people have used to get over being homesick:
Allow yourself to feel sad, and have a good cry.
When you're sad, sometimes having a good cry can make you feel better. Get it out of your system basically.
Establish a routine.
Getting into a good rhythm can really help to make you more comfortable. Being comfortable in your surroundings is a big factor in getting over homesickness.
Getting involved means you will meet new people which means you will have people to hang out with which is what helped me feel better.
Explore your surroundings,
Familiarize yourself with your new campus. Once again, being comfortable with your surroundings will help.
Keep in touch with family and friends regularly.
Now this depends on what you think is best for you. It may be better for you to not talk to them as much for the first month or two until you feel better, but if you do this, don’t completely cut them out. If you decide to regularly keep in touch with family and friends, don’t let it overwhelm you. We’ve all heard that you shouldn’t go home the first month of school so don’t let the constant contact tempt you to go back earlier then you are ready.
Think about the positives.
Think about the positives of your campus. If you look down on the area you will be staying in you will never truly be able to get over being homesick. You will constantly be thinking how much better it would be to be home instead of on campus.
Talk to someone about how you’re feeling.
I talked to my mom, she told me that she felt horrible that I felt so terrible for that first week but she still pushed me to continue for at least another week. But you can talk to anyone, family, friends, a counselor, etc.. Have someone motivate you when you can’t motivate yourself.
Keep familiar things.
Keep things like photos and favorite possessions around because they can give you comfort while you adjust to your new surroundings.
Planning a home visit could be helpful as long as you don’t make a habit of it and don’t go too soon. But if you want to see your family again, try having them come to you instead. Have them visit your campus instead so you get to see them without actually going home.
Homesickness differs with each person, don’t be afraid to talk to someone if it’s getting bad. Don’t have what should be a new exciting adventure ruined by homesickness.
Lead Image Credit: Millyard800 via Wikimedia Commons