How to Combat Homesickness in College

Anybody who knows me personally knows that my family is goofy, crazy and extremely close-knit. I have spent countless Friday nights playing board games around the kitchen table or snuggling up with a slapstick comedy (my dad’s favorite genre). While most high school kids were going to parties, I would have a few friends over for pizza and Gordon family nights in. In addition to movie nights and especially intense games of spoons (yes, we have broken furniture fighting over the last spoon), my family went to church together every Sunday which was often followed by lunch and shopping. I knew I’d miss my family, but I never realized how much I’d long for Monopoly, brunch and laying around on Saturday mornings.

I grew up in Saint Louis, which is about a four-hour drive from UMKC’s campus. So, going home every weekend isn’t really an option for me, especially with studying, work and extracurriculars taking up all my free time. Sometimes, especially when I haven’t been home in a while, my heart starts to hurt. All I want to do is pet my dogs, hug my mom, joke with my dad and hear all about my sisters’ lives. However, I’m unable to drop everything and abandon all of my responsibilities to go home every time I get a little homesick. Since I assume I’m not the only one who misses my family from time to time, I decided to come up with a couple of ideas to combat homesickness.

1. Distract yourself

When I start to feel sad about anything, I try my best not to dwell on those feelings. It is important to acknowledge and validate those emotions, but you can do this without staying down in the dumps. So, I try to distract myself. Distractions can come in a number of forms. Put on some fun tunes (dancing is encouraged, but not required), watch that one show that you’ve seen three times all the way through, but somehow still makes you laugh out loud (for me, it’s New Girl) or sit down with your favorite book (bonus if you’re in a cute coffee shop). Do something that will only make you happier and avoid stress-inducing activities (at least for a couple of hours).

2. Call/Text/Facetime

Sometimes, when I’m missing home, the best cure for my homesickness is to Facetime my little sister. Calling her always leads to a hilarious life update followed by a quick hello to both of my dogs and my parents. I always hang up with a smile on my face and a feeling of contentment. So, when the distance starts to get to you, give your family a call or text to remind them how important they are to you.

3. Spend time with friends

I’m a very social person, so when I’m feeling down, I almost always reach out to my awesome friends. I am blessed to live with 11 amazing, supportive women who always make me feel better. So, when I miss my biological sisters, I have my sorority sisters to lean on. When all I want to do is hug my mom, I know one of my besties will be there with all the cuddles I need. If nothing else, having someone by your side reminds you that you may be missing someone, but you are not alone.

4. Go home

I know, easier said than done. But if you can swing it, sometimes going home is exactly what you need. If you can’t jump in the car the first time you feel a tinge of homesickness, whip out your planner and figure out the next time you’ll be able to visit your family. This is a good way to remind yourself that you will eventually get to see your family and it gives you something to look forward to.

College is an amazing time full of new experiences and opportunities. But for many people, it is their first experience with being away from home for an extended period of time, which can cause feelings of anxiety, sadness and loneliness. I experienced these feelings when I first left home and I still get homesick every once in a while. But I am not alone in these feelings, and neither are you. The next time you feel lonely, try surrounding yourself with people and things that make you smile.