By Rayvin Ashlee Mosley-Hall
No matter how excited you are for the parties, games, and organizations, even the most independent college student can find themselves homesick. Whether you’re a freshman or a senior, it happens to everyone. There’s no medical definition for homesickness, but according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Homesickness in it’s most basic form is thoughts and feeling about home, but it exists on a continuum—it isn’t a matter of being of homesick or not; it’s matter of degree,” says Dr. Klapow. “This means that however mild or infrequent your thoughts about home are, you can still be considered homesick.” In its severe state, homesickness can cause you to have obsessive thoughts about home, crying at random times and the inability to come to college and do what you’re supposed to do—go to classes, make friends, find yourself and of course, earn your degree. People make the mistake of thinking being homesick means that you miss your home, but it’s really about missing what’s comfortable. Homesickness is a longing for familiarity.
1. Accept what you’re going through, and understand it’s normal. There is nothing wrong with taking a minute to adjust to a new place, or missing what’s familiar. It happens to all of us, even if we don’t want to admit it. Chances are, a lot of your friends are going through it but won’t talk about it. So whether you’re in a new city for school, a job, or you just wanted a fresh start, if you find yourself feeling homesick you can immediately work towards getting through it.
2. Get used to your new surroundings. Make college your home away from home. According to Dr. Kaplow, the core of homesickness is being uncomfortable with the unfamiliar. So take a walk around your campus and explore your surroundings. Find cool spots to hang out, study or even create your own private spot where you can go to clear your head. Don’t just make your room your happy place, as the more you make the campus “yours” the more comfortable you’ll become.
3. Don’t dwell on your high school self, time to rebuild yourself and find out who you really are. It’s okay if you were the popular kid that everyone knew in high school, but when you get to college it’s not exactly the same. It’s not about being well-known, it’s about feeling at home and being sure of yourself. The discomfort of not knowing everything and everyone around you may throw you off, but continuously working to get comfortable can make your feelings of homesickness settle down.
4. Stay connected to home, but not too connected. Staying connected with your friends and family helps you to miss them less, and talking to them a few times a week or even once a day is always okay. Still, don’t go overboard. Part of getting settled in is getting used to living differently. Touching base with home every now and again helps, but don’t be afraid to branch out and experience new people.
5. Stay positive! “Many college students don’t give themselves time to deal with homesickness,” says Dr. Klapow. “Homesickness is uncomfortable, but for the most part, you’re fine.” Don’t let homesickness take over. Adjusting to new surroundings and trying to juggle academics is a challenge at first, and that’s normal. Still, don’t forget what you came to school for and just keep pushing.
Most students will experience some form of homesickness, however, it is very important that you pay attention to yourself. With many students, homesickness can trigger anxiety or even depression. If you feel as if these feelings are arising, keep a log of days when you’re in a homesick daze. Those days when you’re really not feeling or acting like yourself, ask yourself questions such as, “Have I been homesick for more than 3 days or so?” or “Am I still able to fulfill my responsibilities such as going to class, club meetings etc.?” It is rare for homesickness to turn into something more serious but if you need additional help please be sure seek it out.
Remember, homesickness is normal. We all have lonely days, especially our freshman year, but make sure to stay positive and look forward to all of the awesome things that have yet to come.