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Far From Home: How I Overcame Being Homesick in College

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Tampa chapter.

Moving away from college is an experience of a lifetime. Whether you’re only a couple of hours or over 900 miles from home, being on your own for the first time is a BIG deal! Give yourself credit for taking the leap. 

One of the things I was looking for in a school when I was going through the college search process was a place with lots to do and somewhere I envision myself living after graduation. As soon as I stepped foot on UT’s campus and explored Tampa, I knew I was going to spend my next four years here. Although I was excitedly counting down the days until move-in, I was equally as nervous. The truth is, there is no true way to prepare yourself for your first time moving away, and it’s expected that you might face moments of homesickness.

I was surprised at how quickly I adjusted to being away from home my first semester. Determined to embrace the full college experience, I made an oath to myself that I would go outside my comfort zone. So, I did. Whenever I started to feel anxious about making friends, I reminded myself that everyone was in the same boat. Having this mindset helped me confidently branch out and try new things.

Once the second semester started, I was more sad than I imagined. As great as my first semester was, spending a month back at home made it harder to leave my family and hometown friends this time around. I also started a long-distance relationship over winter break, which added to my dread of going back to school. Unlike my first semester, where I was living my best life, I slowly became a hermit, spending most of my time in my dorm. Because of this, I found myself disconnecting from my friends. Ultimately, I knew this was not how I wanted the rest of my college experience to be. 

So, here are ways I overcame being homesick:

College visits. 

The highlight of my second semester was when two of my friends from home came to visit for spring break. Bringing my hometown friends along for my new “normal” life made me appreciate aspects of my college experience in a new way. It was exciting taking them to my go-to spots, showing them around campus, and introducing them to my new college friends. This is exactly what I needed to overcome the sadness I initially felt at the beginning of the semester. If you’re feeling homesick, instead of actually going home, consider planning your next break or weekend for a college visit, whether your hometown friends come to you or you go to them. It’s always refreshing to get a glimpse of what college life is like elsewhere. In my sophomore year, I visited my best friend at Sacred Heart University for a weekend in the fall. It was nice to visit during the fall months because one thing I missed while in Florida was the change of seasons. As much as I enjoyed my time with my best friend in her college town during my favorite season, it was also a moment of clarity of how much I loved Tampa.

I stayed true to myself.

One of the most exciting aspects of going away to college is having the liberation to reinvent yourself. Regardless of how much you loved or hated high school, college is a clean slate– no one knows you from anywhere. But, of course, it can be just as easy to lose yourself in the process. Coming out of your shell and being more outgoing is a great example of reinventing yourself. Losing yourself, on the other hand, would be giving in to peer pressure to fit in, pleasing people out of guilt, or doing things that just don’t make you happy. You can be a better version of yourself without having to change your morals and sacrificing your happiness. It’s okay if you are the type of person who enjoys staying in and watching TV every weekend, just like it’s okay if you are the type of person who enjoys going out every weekend. I can’t stress enough how crucial it is to stay true to yourself no matter what others are doing around you. College is all about deepening your understanding of yourself. It may feel uncomfortable to say no at first, and you may feel like you’re missing out, but coming to terms with who you are will make you happier at the end of the day. I would consider myself an introverted extrovert; I value alone time, but I also love meeting new people and going out with friends every so often. Through experiencing both the nightlife and homebody life at college, I realized I was happily balancing both.

I became independent and continued my hobbies. 

Once I entered my sophomore year, I took the opportunity to start fresh. I ended my long-distance relationship– personally, a long-distance relationship just wasn’t right for me at the time, and I got back into activities that I was passionate about. When we go off to college, we often put aside our passions, but it’s important to continue the hobbies you once had in high school. I started to play volleyball again, attended events that piqued my interest, and explored new places on and off campus. Getting comfortable in public on my own and rekindling my old hobbies gave me a new sense of independence and self-empowerment. Don’t let your fear of being alone set you back from taking the opportunity to do things you want to do! 

I got a job on and off campus.

Getting a job not only helped my bank account but it allowed me to make connections through the process. On campus, I was a cashier at the UT bookstore. Although I only worked there for one semester, it was fun working alongside my peers and constantly meeting and helping other students. I then started to look for jobs off campus during my second semester of sophomore year because I wanted to experience working downtown. I’ve been working as a hostess at The Pearl since then. Working there was one of the best decisions I made throughout my time at UT. I developed a wide range of skills and gained another family. I finally felt like Tampa was becoming my home away from home. Getting a job after your freshman year is a good way to start saving money while building your resume and relationships.  

Trips back home became a retreat. 

Being away from home has its perks– privacy, space, and freedom to do what you want and when you want. But being on your own, you may face financial burdens, pet deprivation, yearning for home-cooked meals, and miss out on family time. However, since I’ve been away from home, I noticed that my relationship with my family grew stronger, and when I got the chance to visit, our time together felt more valuable. I like to think of home as a retreat– a place where I can disconnect, relax, and soak in every moment I have with family and friends. We all need a break from college life from time to time. However, I realized that the key to avoiding homesickness is to not go home too often. The more I visited home, the less I wanted to go back to school. So, my advice is to go home in increments so you can get the break you need without getting too comfortable and attached. 

I got involved on campus. 

Looking back at my first two years, I regret not getting involved on campus sooner. Initially, I just thought there wasn’t a club for me. Flashforward to the summer prior to my Junior fall semester, I pushed myself and became a Week of Welcome leader. The few weeks I spent getting to know the other leaders, preparing for move-in, and interacting with new students awakened my perspective. Being on the other end of the freshman move-in process, it was rewarding to see the influence I had on their experience. Going into the fall semester, I wanted to continue my involvement on campus, so I explored my options at the Involvement Fair. That is where I discovered HerCampus. I never thought that there would be a club that encompassed all of my interests. Being a WOW leader and a HerCampus member, I finally found my place in the UT community. 

I moved off campus and got a pet. 

I am thankful for the first two years that I lived on campus, but I also love living off campus. Living off campus is a totally different experience. Although the convenience of walking from my dorm to class was amazing, living in an apartment was exciting and refreshing. When you live on campus, you’re kind of in a bubble, and I enjoyed being outside of the bubble. You may start to feel disconnected from campus, but you also get to experience life as a Tampa resident. I found a new appreciation for campus while gaining familiarity with the area. Off-campus living is a new sense of freedom and adulthood. Not being in a dorm also meant I could finally get a pet of my own. It’s hard being away from your pet at home, so when I got a puppy, it relieved the sadness of living without a pet.

As I reflect on my college journey, I’ve realized that overcoming homesickness wasn’t just about missing home– it was about finding my place and belonging in a new environment. Each experience I had, both good and bad, has shaped the person I am today. Feeling at home in college takes time, but once you break free from familiarity and expand your horizons, you will find fulfillment in unexpected ways.  

Zoie Aguiar is a writer for Her Campus at the University of Tampa. Her articles cover a variety of topics including wellness, lifestyle, work, academics, travel, fashion, gen-z culture and aesthetics. In addition to sharing relatable and credible content on these topics, Zoie aims to connect with others by spreading positivity. Her core values are: well-being, passion, integrity, peace and individuality. Zoie is a Junior studying Advertising and Public Relations with a minor in Marketing. In her free time, she loves to cozy up in her bed and watch reality tv, take pictures, DIY, design, decorate, play volleyball and shop. Zoie loves to travel and explore new things. Her favorite places to be are the city, beach, and mall. She loves to express her personality and style through writing, art and fashion. Ultimately, Zoie loves to be creative and have fun!