Every college student feels homesick at least once in his or her college career. Freshmen especially feel homesick after moving away from home for the first time and also having to transition into their new life so quickly. No matter what year you are, feeling homesick happens to everyone.
What is homesickness?
Homesickness in its most basic form is thoughts and feelings about home, but it exists on a continuum-it isn't a matter of being of homesick or not; it's matter of degree according to Dr. Klapow at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Homesickness can come from numerous different problems. Whether it's that they miss their family, friends or pets, home cooked food, or even their bed at home, feeling homesick is normal. More times than not, being homesick is about missing what's normal and comfortable, what we're used to, and not being completely comfortable with your new way of life. Homesickness is really just longing for the familiar. I know that when I first came to Adrian, I felt homesick instantly. Of course I missed my family, the home cooked meals from my parents, and the feeling of comfort my bed and room at home provided me with. Looking back, I now realize that I also freaked because my new life at Adrian wasn't the life and routine I grew up with for the past 19 years. I did not know how to make it feel like home, but that is not what I ultimately needed. I needed my small dorm room to feel like a home away from home so that I would not feel homesick as much, and it worked!
I somehow did it and I’m here to tell you that you can get through it, and you will. Pick up the phone and call your family, FaceTime them, write letters back and forth. Do not be afraid to call home and admit you need to come home for the weekend. I promise your parents will gladly drive however long it takes to come get you, even if it is only for a short time home.
Here are a few ways to cope with your homesickness.
1. Understand that what you're going through is normal.
Everyone goes through the feeling of homesickness, so it is a very normal feeling to experience. Feeling homesick is part of learning to live a new life.
2. Get used to your new surroundings.
In order to feel comfortable with the unfamiliar at college, it is important to explore campus. Scope out places you want to study or hang out with friends at. The more comfortable you feel in your new home, the more you will feel like you "belong" on campus.
3. Stay connected to the people at home-but not too connected.
Call your parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, whoever. Text whichever one of them knows how to text or FaceTime/Skype them from time to time. Seeing a familiar face is much better than just hearing a comforting voice. I guarantee they probably miss you just as much as you miss them and are dying to talk to you.
I know I FaceTime my family just about everyday when I have free time still. Texts and random phone calls home also helped a ton!
4. Do something that you loved to do at home.
Bring your at home traditions, favorite meals, etc. to school with you. Doing things you loved to do at home will make college feel more like home.
5. Get plenty of exercise.
Not only does exercising help with easing stress and release endorphins, it can also aid in burning off those extra calories you gained from your favorite comfort foods. Exercising has been known to improve your immune system, which will make you not get sick as often. Taking time out of your day to hit the gym will lessen the feeling of homesickness.
I am not one who loves the gym, but I don't mind getting some cardio or core in every once in a while. I love how good I feel afterwords and to be honest, home is the last thing on my mind when I'm working up a sweat on the treadmill.
6. Get involved.
Keep your mind off home with clubs and other extracurricular activities. Join a club or team focused around your interests. If there isn't a club you are interested in, try creating one!
After playing three sports all throughout high school, I chose to hang up my shoes and not be an athlete here at Adrian College. Joining clubs was my only option of getting involved besides my on campus job. I am now part of the Philosophy Club and looking forward to the opportunities it will bring.
7. Step out of your comfort zone.
It is important to put yourself out there to make friends that will become like your family. Start with small steps, like introducing yourself to the people who live around you and the students you sit next to in class.
8. Stay positive. It will get better!
You need to realize that you are at school for a purpose, then living away from home for a while doesn't seem so bad. When you consider all of the breaks during college, you aren't away from home for that long. Like I said earlier, don't be afraid to call up your parents and ask to come home for the weekend. Sometimes we all just need a few nights in our own bed with a home-cooked meal and no shoes in the shower.