Everyone, at some point, gets homesick. It is not an issue limited to 8 year-old kids at camp for the first time; college students and grad students will face this difficulty as well. Not everyone faces it to the same degree, or with the same symptoms, but everyone misses home at some point.
The most important thing to remember when feeling homesick is that it’s okay. Being homesick does not mean that college is too hard or that you’re going crazy. Part of what you miss when you’re feeling homesick is the comfort of routine, family, or the dog. A college student away from home for the first time is missing social contact with friends and feels isolated, especially if he or she is far away. None of the normal rhythms are still in place, and it is hard to handle. Homesickness is a sign that you are out of your element.
It can be somewhat prevented, though. Not completely, but there are a few ways to make it easier.
Bringing something of home with you to college serves as a reminder of where you came from. Pictures, blankets, posters…just something to connect you to home. The familiarity will give a sense of control and you’ll have a little bit of home right with you, when you start missing familiar places and people.
Exploring the new surroundings is a great thing, especially if you invite someone along. The two of you can bond along the way and as a bonus you can find out where your classes are. Really, the key to preventing homesickness is to get out, make friends, and do stuff. Find ways to get busy and socially active. Join a club. Say hi to your new roommate. Volunteer. Be around people.
Sometimes, though, it can’t be prevented.
The all-important first step is to admit that you’re homesick. Nothing is easy about college, especially right at first. Nothing is familiar, nobody is familiar; if pressed, most college freshmen don’t even know where the bookstore is. A natural response is to want to be where things are familiar. Do not give up. You are not crazy, and college is not too much for you. You can do this.
Step two is to call home, do something fun, or go hang out with friends. Be around people. If the blues persist after a couple of days or you have trouble eating or sleeping because of it, go seek professional help. That’s what they do.