6 Ways to Pull Yourself out of the “Second-Semester Slump”

After a long, academically-rigorous first semester, I remember all I wanted to do after finals was to eagerly pack my suitcase, and trade my half of the dorm room for my bedroom back home. While I enjoyed the company of the new friends I have made during first semester, there was something incredibly heartwarming just thinking about seeing my friends and family from home.

After a much needed winter break, I found coming back to school strange, for lack of a more professional term. As much as I adore my roommate, I became so accustomed to my own bed, my own room, and friends that have known me for years. My sleep schedule was set to accommodate waking up lazily at noon everyday and a bedtime well past early morning. Sitting back in a classroom with homework, papers, projects, and exams already piling up felt like being pushed unexpectedly into a freezing swimming pool. I grew more and more overwhelmed.


Dealing with the workload on top of already being homesick was overwhelming to say the least. I found myself already counting down the days before the next break and making plans in my head for what I would do with the time back. It took a couple of weeks, but I found a few ways that have worked to pull myself out of what I'm calling the “Second-Semester Slump” (do I get extra points for alliteration?) and I’m sharing these in hopes that someone will find them useful. While this may be mostly a “freshman problem,” I think these solutions can help anyone who’s homesick or currently in a negative headspace and wants to stay on track.

Focus on the present

This is definitely easier said than done, but it’s very important and arguably the most important piece of advice in this article. If you’re constantly looking forward to one thing to get you through the day (say, spring break or summer vacation), you’re automatically looking at the present in a negative light, barely giving it a chance. While thinking this way is natural and seemingly comforting, it ultimately isn't healthy. 

Hold yourself to a routine

One thing I found helped while adjusting after a long, lazy winter break was to set some guidelines for myself and to hold myself accountable. When you’re in a negative headspace, it sometimes helps to have the day planned out, which keeps you not only on track, but busy and around people. Also, I found making plans in advance to keep myself occupied made me feel better and look forward to different things during the day. Sometimes we overlook small, positive elements in each day such as getting lunch with a friend, having a really good workout, or the feeling of accomplishment when you’ve checked off everything on a “to-do” list.

Do that “thing” you’ve always wanted to do (get involved!)

Have a student organization on campus you were always interested in? How about starting that blog, or that foodie instagram account you’ve thought about starting before? Always wanted to get a job, or work somewhere in particular? Adding things like these to your routine (and doing things for yourself) can help immensely when you feel like you don’t quite belong, when you're homesick, or you're questioning what you’re really doing here (we all have those existential moments). Take the little things you’ve always thought about doing and instead of letting the idea die out momentarily after, try them! Finding things that you want to do, and actually doing them, is an incredibly rewarding feeling. This can help you feel more grounded in your surroundings, and also give you more things to he happy about in the present if you’re currently unsatisfied. You may even meet new people from doing this with similar interests…


Be open to new people

To bring things back to my embarrassing childhood, I remember an incredibly cheesy girl scout saying which was to, “Make new friends, but keep the old…” Sure, the ending said, “One is silver and the other is gold,” but it’s important to branch out especially when you’re in a tough situation. Granted, you still want to maintain contact and not just drop people off your radar and treat them like strangers, but it’s important to expose yourself to new possibilities and new friendships.

Talk to friends about how you’re feeling

This goes out especially to freshman: talk to your friends here. Chances are they are going through a similar issue. No matter how close other people may seem to one another, or how close you consider your own friendships here, in reality we have all only known each other for a couple of months. Many of us have friends back home who we have (literally) grown up with, and family we miss. There is comfort in knowing that you are not alone and other people are feeling the same way.

… This also includes talking to friends and family from home!

Maybe there was an excuse not to call back in the 70s when most residence hall’s only had one landline phone on each floor, but now I feel we have no excuse. If you’re missing home, consider calling your friends and family whenever you have the chance. This is something I personally forgot to do (and sometimes we can forget when we have a million other things on our minds or places we have to be), but I think that reconnecting with the people that make us feel like we’re home is important.

Keep school a priority

You know what’s worse than being homesick and feeling lost? Being homesick, feeling lost, and also being at risk of failing classes. In the end, as fun as other college endeavors are, we’re all here to take classes and to ultimately get a degree. Set time to focus on school, and if your headspace is impacting your ability to focus. Please don’t be afraid to reach out to professors, student counseling services, or a trusted member of the university if you are struggling. Ultimately, those resources are there to help you. If work seems to be piling up at an overwhelming rate, reach out to any academic support centers your university has to offer. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

All of these tips have helped me immensely, and I hope they help you too.


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