After lugging the remainder of your belongings to your new (but definitely used) freshman dorm on Move-In Day, you said a tearful goodbye to your family and are quickly ushered into days packed with seminars, campus activities, and those dreaded ice breakers. Classes finally start and the busyness dwindles, but then homesickness finally hits- and when it hits, it hits hard. We’re talking ugly crying while calling your parents hard. Even if you feel like the only person missing home, many college students experience some degree of feeling homesick and it’s totally normal. Over the years, I found that the best way to deal with feeling homesick is to create a balance to feel connected to my family, friends, and community back home, while still making new friends, learning how to be independent, and feeling a sense of belonging to my university. Here are some tips to help you create that perfect balance between home life and college life so that your freshman year doesn’t start off like this:
1. Try to stay on campus the first couple weekends
This can be tricky with prior commitments and family emergencies, but I would highly recommend staying on campus or in your college town for the first few weekends of college. This was some of the best advice I received when I first got to campus. It felt like ripping off the Band-Aid to adulthood, but it was easier for me to adjust to my university. I really wanted to go home those first few weekends, but making myself stay on campus made it easier to bond with the people on my floor and get a feel for campus life. A lot of the friends I bonded with those first several weeks became my family, which made college feel like my second home. The first weekends are also great for decorating your room or getting a head start on the semester’s homework. If you do have a commitment or emergency and are unable to stay the first few weekends, don’t worry. While the weekends are great for bonding, you can still make plenty of friends during the week. However, if you can, try to stay on campus for a weekend or two and get to know your surroundings.
2. Remember to call home, but also remember the people at your university
You may have been advised to call your parents and let them know how you’re doing once in a while, but maybe you’re on the opposite side of the problem. You could find yourself spending hours each night making multiple phone calls to family and friends at home or other schools. While it is important to keep your family and friends updated on your life, if you’re on the phone for hours every night, you’re not giving yourself a chance to talk to the people who are right outside your door. As someone who is personally guilty of those long phone calls, I found that one of the best ways to maintain a balance is to text my loved ones throughout the day. You still feel like they’re part of your life, but you could set aside that time to go to the first meeting of that club that looked interesting and hang out with that extremely nice girl from your floor. Try scheduling a regular time to call loved ones so that you can stay connected without overdoing it. If you have family and friends who live in different places, try making a three-way call so that you’re able to talk to multiple people at once. Who says you can’t be in more than one place at a time?
3. Stock up on leftovers when you do go home
They say that the key to a college student’s heart is through their stomach. Well, maybe “college student’s” is supposed to be “man’s” and the saying is meant to be love advice, but us hungry college students can still relate. Whether you’re piling Tupperware containers of leftovers into your mini fridge or stopping to get take out from your favorite restaurant, a meal that reminds you of home can be surprisingly comforting and get you through those days when you’re really missing your family and friends.
4. Join a student organization or sports team
One of the most exciting parts of college is all the student organizations and activities that you can join. Between the variety of student organizations, clubs, sports teams, and Greek life, if you have a hobby or interest, there’s probably a club for that. You’ll get to know people outside of your dorm and classes, feel connected to campus, and meetings/practices give you something to look forward to after a long day. You may even learn some new skills or take a leadership role and build that resume. Student organizations and sport teams can be life-savers when it comes to adjusting to college, so don’t be afraid to go to some meetings and find a good fit for you!
5. Remind yourself of why you love your school
Does your school offer the perfect academic program for you career path? Did you fall in love with the campus scenery or the amazing location of your university? Does your school have a ton of pride and a fun student life? Are there any helpful professors you’ve gotten to know? Reminding yourself of all the reasons why you chose your school and all the parts of college you love will help you stay positive when homesickness sets in.
6. A lot of college students experience homesickness, so find someone to talk it out with
Almost every fellow student I’ve met during college has had some degree of feeling homesick. Even people who aren’t close with their families tend to miss their friends and hometown. It’s just another part of college and building independence. If you find yourself really having trouble adjusting to college life, confide in a friend, family member, or resident advisor. You’re definitely not the first- or last- college student who will experience homesickness and there are plenty of people who would love to talk about it and figure out ways to help you adjust.
The first few weeks of college are some of the most exciting parts of those four years, but they can also be a period of adjustment if you’re new to your school. No matter how bad your homesickness may be, it will get easier with time and homesickness affects way more people than you think. Even if it doesn’t go away completely, you will adjust to campus life as you become close with others, find that major you love, become familiar with campus, and experience all of the exciting aspects of college.