Written by: Dustin Limburg of Student Choice
Embarrassing as it might seem, homesickness is very common. Yes, I’ll admit it, when I went off to school for the first time, I too got homesick (and no that’s not me in the picture). In fact, there were many times over my five years of college (yes, I said five, that’s another article) that I felt this way. Some online sources contend that roughly 35% of first-year students experience their fair share of this dreadful ailment, and I’d be surprised if returning students didn’t feel the same way every now and again. There are lots of great suggestions on the web, but here are my Ten Tricks to cure the homesickness blues.
Get to know some of your new neighbors. Whether you’re living in the dorm, off campus or commuting, there are lots of new faces and now’s your chance to meet these strange and interesting folks. Some of my best friends were college buddies and one of my closest friends to this day was a random room assignment in my first dorm. Take advantage of your newfound freedom to get to know somebody that just may turn out to be a lifelong buddy.
Talk about it
Remember that buddy I was talking about – tell him/her about it. They probably feel the same way. If not, who knows, they may just help you laugh about it and feel a whole lot better in return. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to them yet, try talking to a high school friend. Hit them up on Facebook, text or (gasp) call them and you’ll end up feeling much better by just staying in touch with someone from back home.
Join a club
I joined more clubs than I can remember in college. Most were free and you get to meet lots of people and try new things. Sappy story alert – I met my wife while playing intramural soccer in one of these very clubs. Don’t tell me that didn’t help the homesickness!
Get a job
Not only is this a social thing, but a financial thing. Not to mention, if you can funnel some of your newfound riches (maybe I’m exaggerating a little here) into paying for college, you’ll have a little less to pay off when you graduate.
Get to know your new town – it’ll start to feel like home
Well, you did go to school in this new place for a reason didn’t you? What attracted you to your college town? Check out the local scene and you may be surprised what you find. And most likely, you’ll find others that are interested in some of the same things you are. Isn’t making friends fun!
If you haven’t got the general theme of this post by now, it’s that by just staying busy (within reason, don’t forget to relax from time to time – it’s college after all) you can work through a lot of anxiety. You’ll find your comfort zone and when you do, it’s smooth sailing.
You can apply this one to study (maybe an hour each night), leisure (check out that new restaurant or local pub – if you’re of age of course), activities (join a new club this semester) or whatever floats your boat (maybe try kayaking or canoeing for that). Give yourself something to strive for and before you know it your blues will melt away. Just be reasonable so you don’t get burnt out.
Some of us are a little more artistic than others, but do what you can to make your new home feel comfortable and inviting. This may not only remind you a little bit of home, but will also help others get to know you and let you express yourself. I’ll just say my roommate and I had some very interesting door decorations during our time together and leave it at that.
Trust me when I say that sometimes the best cure for homesickness is actually going home. You’ll have one of two reactions, like I did. You may love it – you’re finally back home and all is well…but wait, now you miss all your college buddies and you want to go back (light bulb, you’re going to be okay). Or, nothing will make you realize how glad you are to be away than going home. How did you ever call this place home (be nice, it is your home town after all)? Either way, getting a little taste of home can be just what the doctor ordered.
Take a breath
Last but not least, give it a little time. Of course moving away, settling in and getting used to all these new things can be tough. It’ll take a toll on anyone. Just take a deep breath, and try one of the other nine ideas above, and more than likely you’ll be just fine.
Now, on a more serious note, if you find your homesickness pushing more toward depression, there are a number of great on-campus resources that can help you get through it and get the most out of your experience. Check out on-campus counseling, peer-to-peer programs, religious programs, student organizations and other groups that are all there to help you make your four (yes, yes, or more) years of college feel like home! And if all else fails, spend your time reading blogs, I know of a good one to get you started…