How To Get Over College Homesickness

Being away from home for weeks or months is an immense sacrifice many college students make every fall and spring semester. For those who have large families, close friends, or were raised in a small town, this is especially hard. College is a busy time, and students distract themselves with schoolwork, socializing, working, and sleeping. When dormers find themselves bored, lonely, or gloomy, homesickness hits the hardest. Everyone reacts differently, and some deal with it better. Many freshmen face homesickness, and it is a myth that upperclassmen don’t yearn for home.

Homesickness is feeling nostalgic for home, family, friends, pets, or memories related to one’s community. According to GoodTherapy.org, “The primary cause of homesickness is a sudden transition or separation from home, but some people are more prone to homesickness than others . . . College students who have never been away from home or who have trouble making friends are also more likely to develop homesickness.” Symptoms include less motivation, lack of energy, insomnia, increased drug/alcohol use, change in appetite, depression, anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, difficultly focusing, and feeling isolated or withdrawn.

There are three types of college students: the commuter, the dormer, and the out-of-state dormer. The first is unlikely to experience homesickness because they sleep in their bed every night. After a while, commuters who spend twelve hours a day on campus may long for home. The simple solution would be to study there, but what if their staggered schedule doesn’t allow for that?

Then there is the college resident. They may live ten, thirty, or sixty minutes away from their families. Local residents are encouraged to live on campus for the university experience or to gain independence. Some can go home; others cannot. These are the students who don’t travel by plane. They typically go home every few weeks. Dormers may still suffer from homesickness, especially during their freshmen year.

Lastly, the out-of-state student made the boldest choice of university. At eighteen, they were ready to spread their wings or they wanted to get away. They picked their college for a specific reason, or their major is uncommon. These students visit their homes during semester breaks, holidays, or week-long vacations. If they become homesick, they have no choice but to stick it out.

When I picked my small college a few years ago, I did not consider the 94% commuter rate (which was going down until the pandemic). The majority of students live approximately fifteen minutes from campus, even some of who dorm. There were a few dozen out-of-state residents, mostly from Texas, California, or from other parts of New York. I was among the dormers who lived forty-five to sixty minutes away (with traffic). It was very quickly I realized that of the nearly 200 students who lived on campus, the majority of them went home every single weekend. My college was a ghost town from Friday to Sunday, and there were so many times I counted the number of people in the dining hall. When I brought this up with my family, they stated that they didn’t spend all of this money for me to be home two days a week.

Here are some ways to beat homesickness, even when you can’t go home.

Make Friends: Find students who are also battling from nostalgic distress. It is one of those rare cases where empathy is good. Having reliable friends will improve your college life, and you will be able to get through the drought together. If you are having trouble meeting people, it doesn’t hurt to make the first move. Be yourself, act kind, don’t lie, and remember that the first person you talk to won’t be part of your future wedding party. You may rely on classmates, study mates, roommates, suitemates, and university staff for emotional support and guidance.

Keep Yourself Busy, But Not Too Busy: Overloading yourself with ruthless courses and joining every sports team, club, and school play will cause more stress than relief. Find extracurriculars you enjoy, and don’t hesitate to attend workshops, club fairs, and campus events. Keep yourself occupied to avoid the blues, and spend weekends catching up on homework and preparing for classes. It will give you an advantage over other students on Mondays and may lighten up your academic worries during the week.

Avoid Loneliness: If you are surviving the week and feeling belittled on the weekends, conquering loneliness is the next step. This is where your imprisoned peers come into play. There were probably only a hundred residents at my college every weekend, and most of them hid in their dorm rooms, making this task harder. I recommended keeping in touch with your household, extended family, community, and high school friends. Connect with people on social media, give Grandma a call, or facetime your dogs. Bear in mind, you might feel sad once the conversation is over. So seek a job on campus, where you can work weekends and socialize.

Do What You Would Do If You Were Home: Unlike most adolescents, I don’t care for streaming services. Instead, my family gathers around the TV almost every evening. Knowing that my mom and I were watching This Is Us simultaneously gave me comfort as a freshman. If your family likes to eat pasta on Sundays, continue this ritual. Just because you aren’t with your family doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your family traditions.

Enjoy The Homes of Others: Maybe you were simply missing family. Colleges don’t come with the standard family structure, even if you consider your peers your family. Although universities offer housing, you’re not living in an actual home. Invite yourself to your friend’s house for a few hours or days, but understand if they say no. Escaping campus to be in a home can ease your sorrow. Eat dinner with your friend’s family, sleep in a bedroom, and form new bonds.

Be Grateful: If your homesickness is that atrocious, it means you’ve had a great childhood. Consider yourself lucky to come from a steady home with a loving family. Next time you visit your town, you will appreciate it so much more.

 

For more advice on college homesickness:

 

 

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