College may seem like an exciting time in your life that’s all about making new friends and having a blast — and it can be. What you may not anticipate is the homesickness that so many students experience during freshman year. Not only is your schedule completely different, but you may share a room with a stranger or even live in a different state from your family and high school friends. You have a lot of big changes to get used to!
Fear not; you are not alone. Countless students before you have braved the college campus and conquered the mighty dragon called homesickness. Check out the following tips for dealing with this unpleasant (but completely solvable) problem.
1. Realize Your Feelings Are Normal
It may look like everyone around you is having the time of their lives, and you may feel like you’re the only one who can’t stop calling your parents every day. Believe it or not, at least several of your fellow students are secretly crying when they’re alone. According to a study, 69 percent of first-year college students reported feeling homesickness. So, if you think you have nothing in common with anyone else, think again. You’re in this together.
2. Explore Your Surroundings
Homesickness in college isn’t even really about missing home; it’s about missing the familiar. With a bit of time and effort, you can find new familiar places and people. Get to know your college campus and nearby areas. Go for a walk and find a new coffee shop, record store, park bench, or another area you enjoy. As you get to know new people through class or in the dorms, you can offer to show them your cool finds.
Having trouble meeting people? Consider joining an on-campus club or putting together a study group. Another option is to get a part-time job. It not only brings in money, but also helps keep your mind off of home. We know how tempting it is to curl up on your bed and watch Netflix, but isolating yourself will make you feel even worse. Make the effort to put yourself out there.
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3. Think Positive Thoughts
The way you choose to view a situation makes a huge difference in how you feel. Yeah, getting used to your new home is challenging. College homesickness sucks. However, you also have new freedoms that you didn’t have before. You can stay out as late as you want. You can eat pie for breakfast, and nobody can stop you. As for your small dorm room, think of it as a chance to try a new style. Decorate and organize your dorm room until it feels like home.
Does that advice seem impossible to follow? Start small by finding something to look forward to every day. It could be anything from working out at the gym to seeing your crush in your morning class to watching a movie with your roommate. It’s perfectly normal to look forward to your next trip home, but making the best of your situation helps the time pass faster. By the time you do visit home, you may actually find yourself missing your college life.
4. Stay Connected With Family and Friends
Getting used to your new life is important, but so is keeping in touch with your friends and family back home. If you have a boyfriend or girlfriend back home, you may be on the phone every night already. So long as you continue meeting new people and getting out of your room, there’s nothing wrong with calling home.
If you live close to home, it may be tempting to visit every weekend. After all, most parents are more than happy to spend time with their homesick college student. However, visiting too often can make you feel even worse. Try to visit no more than once or twice per semester.
If you live too far away from home to visit often, consider scheduling regular talks through online video chat. Sharing pictures through text messages or email can also help you feel more connected.
5. Know When It’s Too Much
Sometimes, homesickness is about more than just missing your familiar routine. Maybe you have a sick family member back home that you’re worried about. Maybe you have anxiety or depression. Other negative emotions can intensify feelings of homesickness and vice versa.
If you’ve tried the above advice and you’re having trouble focusing on your studies or attending class, find someone to talk to. Most colleges have a counseling and wellness center that offers free counseling to students. A professional can help you work through your feelings and help you decide if you should stay at your current college or transfer somewhere that’s closer to home.
And now you know how to deal with homesickness in college. It takes time and effort to get used to your new life, but it’s worth it.