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Being Homesick at College: How to Deal with Being Away from Home for the First Time

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Being homesick at college is totally normal.

Being homesick at college is totally normal.

Being homesick at college is tough, whether you anticipate the feeling or not. I went to a college that was an eight-hour drive from home and, although I believed myself to be fiercely independent, I had never gone away to summer camp or boarding school. Being in a new living situation, especially without Mom's cooking, can be strange if you're not used to it.

I was never a crier either, so when my parents dropped me off my freshman year, I felt fine until I had to say goodbye to my dog. When I hugged my dog and she gave me kisses all over my face, I just started bawling. I shocked my whole family, as well as myself! (My rationale was, and still is, that you can't talk to your dog on the phone.)

Once I settled into a routine, I was fine, but that first week was pretty lonesome. Here are some ways you can prepare yourself for dealing with feelings of homesickness at college.

Stay busy.

I arrived a week before my roommate with all the other athletes, so it was strange being in this new room by myself. However, I had field hockey practice a couple of times a day, explored the campus with my teammates, and started meeting so many new people. Once all the other freshmen arrived, it was a whirlwind of orientation activities, getting textbooks for classes, and finding classes. Staying busy and surrounding yourself with people was a really good way to stave off homesickness.

Go to meetings of organizations that interest you and attend all the fun orientation events. Remember, everyone else is in the same boat as you are.

Call, write, and text — often.

That first week, I think I called home every single night — and I'm not afraid to admit it! Emailing your parents frequently to tell them about your day or even just texting your siblings can help you feel closer. Let's face it, sometimes we all just need to hear our mom's or dad's voice, or get advice from a sympathetic older sister. Even if you don't feel like talking to your parents, call one of your high school friends. They might be going through a similar experience.

Look forward to Parents' Weekend or your next visit home.

That first fall semester of college flies by really quickly because you'll be so busy with classes and other activities. My school had a Parents' Weekend in October, so I reminded myself that they would be visiting me in a few short months. Then I would go home the next month for Thanksgiving, and again after that for Christmas. Looking forward to those visits and holidays really helped with my homesickness.

Talk to someone.

If your homesickness gets really bad or you start feeling really down, go talk to somebody. Whether it's a new friend or the college counseling center, find someone who will listen. Don't be ashamed or feel silly; these feelings are completely normal. My homesickness subsided after a little while, but if yours doesn't, go to someone for help.

Even if you're busy studying and having the time of your life, being homesick at college is something that almost every student goes through. By staying busy and active, making new friends, staying in touch with your family, and seeking help if you need to, you'll be able to adjust. Just give it time.

Photo source: Monika Kostera on Flickr.