5 Ways to Alleviate First-Year Homesickness

College is truly different for every person. For many kids, it is an escape from the old and an exciting path to freedom. For others, it is a daunting journey of self reliance and sadness. Although the transition can be tough, there are many ways to make it better. As a freshman right now myself, I know firsthand how rough the first few weeks can be. It can seem as though everything is different and challenging. Even doing things that seemed easy at home feel like chores and are difficult and challenging. If you or someone you know is feeling this way, you have come to the right place. 

#1 Go at your own pace:

College has a lot of great opportunities to take advantage of. However, don’t overschedule yourself or try to do everything. You will end up feeling even more stressed and upset. My first week was really hard because I tried to go to every event I was invited to. Once I realized that people will be friends with you even if you skip hanging out with them until 2 am, my life drastically improved. 

#2 Find a person or group of trusted individuals:

Finding someone or a small group who you can talk (or cry) to is really helpful if you ever feel down. Sometimes our worst enemy is our brain telling us that nobody cares, or that you’re the only one who feels like this. Talking about this with others can help you realize that everyone is going through something. 

#3 Reach out to your support system:

College staff such as Deans, RAs, Professors and Counselors are here to help. They want to make sure that you are comfortable and safe. Talk to them about how you’re feeling and they may have ways to adjust or fix things that are not working. They can only help if you reach out. Contact Hamline University Counseling Services website here for great resources for mental health:

#4 Take things one day at a time:

When things get really tough, it’s easy to spiral and panic about living and working here for (almost) nine months. Allowing yourself to think this way only further exacerbates the problem and is not productive. Instead, plan one thing. This afternoon, I’m going to do a load of laundry or read 20 pages of my book. Setting goals makes life seem manageable (and you can check things off of a to-do list for an extra rush!)

Painted nails. Photo taken by Evelyn Harrison.

#5 Do things that make you happy:

The most important part of your college journey is how you spend your time. Although classes and homework obviously come first, you will have a lot of free time and how you use it will either make or break your experience. Sometimes I do my nails if I feel really stressed out or sad. It helps me feel in control of what I am doing and makes me feel cute! Be kind to yourself. It is perfectly fine to party (do it safely though), but also recognize that it is okay to stay in and have a movie night or do your nails. You are the number one person in your life who can make you happy. Make sure you are putting yourself in an environment where you can thrive. 

This year, make it a goal to take care of yourself the best you can. You’ll be happy you did! Have a great year!