How to Handle Homesickness

William and Mary
United States

Person waiting by window, sad Photo by Andrik Langfield from Unsplash


In high school, I intensely craved new adventures and life experiences. I was busy, passionate and motivated. I rarely caught a moment to just exist, and I liked that. When it came to college decisions, I desperately wanted to get as far away from home as possible. My excitement grew and grew until my long-awaited hopes became a reality, and then I had a realization. My omnipresent focus on leaving home made it even harder to really leave in the end. I never stopped to appreciate the comforts of home, so my homesickness hit me like a train amid a slow COVID-19 college semester. I had always assumed that my first semester of college would be a replica of my life at home with even more friends, parties and freedom. Instead, I’ve had to slow down, create new habits and learn to be alone. So, here’s my advice.


1. Develop a routine

I used to rarely ever wake up early. I began my first college mornings waking up late as usual. As my homesickness became more and more all-consuming, I found myself unmotivated to be productive and have meaningful days after waking up so late. I decided to create a new routine. I set an alarm for earlier than usual, jumped out of bed, and started the day actively. This new habit may be difficult at first, but it really helps to feel like you are accomplishing something and to take your mind off of home. 


2. Take time to exercise

College during COVID-19 lacks a lot of the typical activities to fill your days. I found that I had a lot more time than usual. When I wasn’t doing homework, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Because I had so much unfilled time, I had more time to be homesick. I started taking walks and doing yoga outside after finishing my homework. Being active, enjoying nature and working on your mental health can help eliminate any negative thoughts or feelings you may have. Walking and working out helped me to handle my homesickness in a productive way.


3. Find new places to study

As I got used to my new college workload, I got stuck studying in the same place every day. I wanted to keep my mind fresh, so I started experimenting with study locations. Every day I tried a new place. Mixing things up helps to be more productive and can be entertaining. Take advantage of the beauty of campus! 


4. Take time to reflect

While in high school, I started journaling before I went to bed. I enjoyed this daily reflection because it made me pause my chaotic days. College was definitely a lot slower, but journaling before bed forced me to be grateful and appreciate the new experience, despite how homesick I may have been. Acknowledging your homesickness allows you to grow and change your habits to see your time away from home in a positive light. 


My first semester of college has been a lot harder than I expected. Limited social outlets due to COVID-19 have not helped. However, I’ve learned to make the most of my experience. Homesickness is something that everyone experiences, but learning to turn your sadness into productivity fosters excellent life habits. If anything, my homesickness has helped me to better appreciate my family and the comforts of home. In the end, I can say I’ve learned a lot about myself — all thanks to my homesickness.