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What is it?
Coming to college, meeting new people, doing new things, and living in a new place sounded so exciting when you were planning it. After all, you waited all through high school for this time to come. Yet, now that you are here, your thoughts are focused on home. You miss those things that were familiar and secure. These things include people and places, but also may be related to “normal routines”.
Most people will have felt homesick at some time during their lives. This may have already occurred to you earlier in your life.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms that what you are feeling may be homesickness include:
- Preoccupation with thoughts of home – these thoughts may become obsessive
- A sense of anticlimax when you do finally get here and start your new independent life
- Feeling anxious – we all have times of anxiety, but these feelings are persistent
- Feeling depressed – college feels awful, but home is viewed as wonderful; the proverbial rose colored glasses
- Multiple vague physical ailments
Things Influencing Homesickness
Many things may affect our vulnerability to homesickness. Some of these may include:
- The distance from home
- Whether you were responsible for the decision to come to any college and this one
- Feeling unhappy because your expectations of college are not being met
- Feeling overwhelmed by the workload that you have
- Feeling concern about family members or situations at home
- Extreme contrasts in lifestyle
What You Can Do
There are numerous things you can do to alleviate these feelings. Some of them include:
- Give yourself time to adjust. You do not want to rush into making any decisions about staying or leaving. It may take 4 – 6 weeks to find your niche.
- Get involved. There are many sports, clubs, groups and activities on campus and in the community. Join a group that meshes with who you are and what you like.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle - get enough sleep! Eat healthy foods. Eat breakfast. Exercise regularly.
- Stay in contact with the people at home, but consider doing so at predetermined times such as twice per week. Don’t let looking back keep you from moving forward.
- Encourage friends and family to come visit you in your new environment.
- Talk to someone – use your network of family and friends, but don’t forget that the Health Center and Counseling Center are available to you to use. You may want to talk to a “new” friend about your feelings. He or she may have these same feelings. Don’t wait until the problems are too large before you seek help.
- Allow yourself to feel sad and homesick, but also allow yourself to enjoy your new environment and experiences. It is not disloyal to those at home to enjoy yourself at college.
- Be realistic about what you expect form yourself and from the college experience. Establish a balance between school work, any job you may have and recreational activities. You should not expect to work all the time or you will burn out. On the other hand, if you don’t put enough time and effort into your work, you can quickly fall behind. This will only add to your stress.