The first year of college brings huge transitions, and for most freshman, their first semester is their first extended period of time away from their homes and family. Most college students will experience homesickness from time to time as they adjust to college life. You may feel like you’re the only one longing for home as you watch your friends party and enjoy school, but odds are good many of them are struggling with the same feelings you are. Homesickness can vary from very mild to so severe it interferes with schoolwork and friendships. If you’re experiencing homesickness, here are some things you can do to both prevent and combat it.
When you’re feeling homesick, lonely, and sad it’s easy to retreat into yourself and dwell on negative emotions. However, one of the best ways to prevent homesickness is to get busy. Go to parties; go to class; find an activity you like to do. When you’re feeling bad it may be the last thing you want to do, but keeping your mind active, making friends, and working hard in class are all excellent ways to prevent homesickness from getting worse.
Recognize Your Feelings Are Normal
Some students may view their homesickness as a sign of immaturity or failure and thus be hesitant to acknowledge their feelings. Homesickness is normal, though, and the vast majority of students experience it. If you feel comfortable talking about your feelings with your friends and family, doing so can work wonders. If not, though, knowing that you’re not weird can go a long way toward helping you feel better. Everyone has to adjust to being away from familiar surroundings sooner or later and homesickness is a normal part of this adjustment period in life.
Stay In Touch
Staying in touch with your family can be a surefire bet to combat homesickness. Especially in the first few weeks, it’s ok to e-mail, call, and stay in contact as much as you feel you need to. Avoid going home too frequently, and don’t spend all your time talking to your family at the expense of making friends, or else the adjustment will be more difficult and the temptation to avoid college life will become stronger.
Get On a Schedule
Missing home often isn’t so much about home itself but the certainty that comes with it. If you’re struggling with homesickness, it’s a good idea to try to settle into a routine. This will give you the security of home. You don’t have to do everything in a regimented, scheduled way, but having an idea of how your day will go can be immensely helpful. You may also want to schedule regular times to talk to your family and even regular visits so you have some reassurance of the next time you’ll see or talk to them.
Don’t Make Big Decisions
Making big decisions about whether or not to drop a class, transfer schools, or move when you’re feeling homesick will almost always yield bad results. Save these decisions for moments when you’re feeling self confident and at ease.
Stop Negative Self Talk
College freshmen struggling with homesickness often talk negatively to themselves, telling themselves they’re stupid for feeling the way they do or that they’ll never fit in. Stop yourself in the midst of these negative thoughts and reframe them in a more positive fashion. Recognize that these thoughts and feelings are temporary, not a permanent part of your existence.
Homesickness can be a painful struggle, but is a normal part of development. By sticking with it and seeking help if you need it, you will beat homesickness. If you’re struggling a lot, consider consulting your school’s counseling center. These places can be especially helpful with homesickness because they have so much experience dealing with it.