As August comes to an end and September begins to roll in, it can only mean one thing – college is upon us. Being at college for your first, second, third or fourth year is an exciting time for many. However, even with all of the excitement of in-person classes, the thrilling nature of home football games and finally living freely on your own, there might be a certain feeling lingering in the back of your mind: homesickness. You have probably even heard the word come up multiple times in your preparation for college. Homesickness can hit at any moment: the minute your car pulls away from your driveway, the first two weeks of school or maybe even later in the semester. If you’re like me, you may be facing a battle with homesickness the first week or two. Being five hours away from my hometown has made me very familiar with the feeling of homesickness. The minute my parents drove away from my dorm, my eyes started to brim with tears, my hands started to shake and all I thought about was home. My mind raced worrying about all the things that I would be missing this year. How empty I felt watching my mom and I’s favorite show alone. How quiet the room felt without my two brothers’ yelling antics. How sad I would feel being alone in a big city with my family hundreds of miles away. However, I don’t want to succumb to the feeling of homesickness and neither should you. Here are my tips on how to cope with homesickness so you can rock this school year!
- Stay busy
An idle mind is the easiest way to let homesickness in. If you aren’t doing anything and not keeping yourself busy, all your mind will do is focus on the homesickness. Make sure you are doing your school work, going to in-person classes (if you can and are comfortable), enjoying the events your school may be hosting and keeping your mind busy. Try to get your mind off the topic of missing home, and instead focus on what’s in front of you. Staying busy means not letting your mind focus on the distance between yourself and friends/family/significant others. Make sure you take advantage of all of the events, classes and meetings that you are able to go to. For me, I’ve been keeping busy with checking my syllabi, planning ahead for my busy schedule and looking forward to meetings in-person. Get yourself into a routine where your homesickness doesn’t have a chance to creep in and hopefully you will stay focused on the school year ahead of you. Find something that gets you excited and use that to keep your mind off the homesick feeling!
- get outside
For me, being outside is the best way to get rid of my homesickness. The walls of my Panther Hall dorm seem to keep me trapped in the feeling of missing home. Walking has been vital for me this past week. My homesickness seems to invade my mind the moment I wake up, so in order to get my mind off the topic, I push myself to wander around campus. I venture down Cardiac Hill and find myself doing rounds around lower campus – starting from the Cathedral and ending with me getting a pumpkin iced coffee. The walks get my blood pumping and my mind focusing on something other than the loneliness I might be feeling. I also find myself admiring the campus and showing my homesickness that I’m actually meant to be here. Seeing Forbes and Fifth Ave buzzing with students, the Cathedral standing proud and beautiful as always and the Eatery filled with plates instead of to-go boxes helps me realize that Pitt is the place where I’m meant to be. Use the last bit of summer that we have left to take walks outside exploring your campus and finding the beauty in it. With this Pittsburgh heat I may come back from my walks to my dorm room a sweaty mess, but I feel better and ready to face the rest of the day.
- know that you’re Not alone
Never feel bad for feeling homesick. I struggled with the idea that I was facing homesickness again even as a sophomore. I thought that I should be over the homesick stage and ready to be back on my own since this was my second go around. However, COVID-19 altered my life since my senior year of high school. I endured online classes for my first year of college and even ended up staying remote for the spring semester to save money. Now, here I am as a sophomore in college missing home again and seemingly feeling worse the second time. However, one thing that has helped keep me grounded is knowing that I’m not alone. Many people don’t voice their homesickness, but know that others are feeling it too. Being an out-of-state student, like me, is especially hard, but homesickness can hit anybody at any given time. Whether your college is right around the corner from your house, an hour commute away, in a different state or even in a completely different country – homesickness is a natural and normal feeling to have. Know that if you are dealing with homesickness, you’re not the only one going through it! Homesickness is a normal thing to go through as you venture into college. Leaving a place that you were once so familiar with and moving on to something so brand new can be scary. However, don’t think that you’re alone in your feelings. Everyone in college is likely to face homesickness sometime during their college experience. Homesickness is hard to deal with, but just know that you’re not battling it alone.
- be honest about how you’re feeling
One of the best things that have helped me with homesickness is being honest about how I’m feeling. Being able to tell my roommates that I’m struggling with being far away from home has lifted some weight off my shoulders. Homesickness can make you feel even worse when you keep it to yourself. A plus of being honest with your feelings is that you might find someone in the same boat as you. When you hide how you’re feeling, you can make the situation worse and the homesickness even stronger. Don’t be afraid to reach out to somebody about what you’re experiencing. Whether it’s your RA, your roommate, the counseling center at your school or even a friend or family member you trust – don’t be scared to tell them what exactly you’re going through! If you find yourself really struggling with homesickness, don’t be afraid to reach out to your school’s mental health/counseling center.
Homesickness is a completely normal thing to face especially amidst an ongoing pandemic. Don’t let homesickness ruin your college experience. Hopefully with these tips, we can face homesickness together and end up having an amazing year of school!