For students who move away from home to attend university, living on their own for the first time can be liberating and exciting. Before and after coming to university, this idea of post-secondary life was basically the only one I was told. This time in my life was going to be filled with endless freedom and possibility—so when I began to feel homesick in my freshmen year and longed to move back home with my family, I thought it was a sign that I was failing to have the ‘true university experience’ and didn’t share how I felt with any of my loved ones.
After conducting some research, I found that homesickness is both completely normal and quite common for university students. Up to 70% of university students experience homesickness during their studies and these feelings occur most often during their first year away from home.
The Her Campus at U Ottawa team is no different—all of us have been homesick at one time or another. A few members of the team have shared the ways they deal with these feelings below. We hope this shows that homesickness is normal, temporary, and nothing to be ashamed of!
Chatting with a loved one
“For comfort, I call my mom and we talk about everything and nothing together.”
– Avalyn Kwai Pun, Writer
“What I usually do when I’m homesick is simply calling whoever reminds me of home. Sometimes I will randomly FaceTime my brother or my cousins to have a quick chat with them! Surrounding yourself with people that have the same background as you might also help in terms of talking out why you’re missing home.”
– Maude St-Pierre, Marketing & Publicity Director
revisiting a comfort food
“I FaceTime my parents while I cook my favourite meal.”
– Eve Chamely, Writer
“When I’m homesick I find that calling or FaceTiming my mom helps me. Also, eating meals I used to have back home (like shepherd’s pie or chilli) makes it a bit more bearable!”
– Angelina Dickieson, Writer
“Call my family, keep myself busy, and not isolate myself (I’m always the most homesick when I’m laying around doing nothing), and plan things to look forward to!”
– Katie Grierson, Fashion & Beauty Editor
“Whenever I miss home I always FaceTime family members and spend time with friends.”
– Emma Hefkey, Writer
watching a familiar fave
“I watch a comfort show that I’m used to watching at home (ideally paired with some comfort snacks, too)—it makes me feel way more comfortable and normal even if I’m somewhere new and feeling a bit off.”
– Teaghan Durand, Chapter Leader
My own strategies to deal with homesickness involve a mix of all these things. I’m always comforted when I FaceTime my mom or my sister and I love having hot chocolate or soup like my parents used to make me as a kid. I also find that spending time with my university friends or planning fun activities to do in Ottawa cheers me up—it helps to remind me why I moved away from home in the first place and how exciting this time in my life can be!
While I was severely homesick during my first year of university, I’ve found that these feelings have significantly decreased as time goes on. I don’t feel the need to visit home as often as I used to, and often even miss being in Ottawa when I’m in my hometown! I still feel homesick sometimes (particularly after the Christmas break), but I feel more at home in this city every day.